More than 12 million Chinese are short of drinking water because of a widespread and long drought over many parts of the country, state media reported.

Xinhua News Agency said the drought had hit the north, northwest and southwest of China, and had also affected 14 million hectares of arable land.

It quoted the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters as saying late Thursday that the three-month long drought had affected crop plantings in the southwestern city of Chongqing and in Sichuan, Guizhou and Yunnan provinces.

Tian Yitang, deputy chief of the office, said the situation would get worse in China's northern areas as little rain is forecast and temperatures are rising.

He said 11 million head of livestock were also suffering from drinking water shortages.

The drought comes after one last summer in the southwest that was the worst in 50 years. It caused more than $1.1 billion in economic losses, according to state media, leaving 18 million people without adequate drinking water in Chongqing and neighboring Sichuan province.