Chinese state media say a severe drought in southwestern China is causing the water level in the country's longest river to decline, leaving some 1.5 million people with water shortages.

Xinhua news agency quotes authorities in the densely populated municipality of Chongqing as saying that if the water levels in the Yangtze River continue to decline, the region will face a real crisis.

Authorities also say several ships have been stranded in the Yangtze due to low water levels.

Officials say that if the drought continues, they will consider seeding clouds to make it rain.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.