Another three million people then had to move to other regions to escape hunger. Famine was caused by strong drought, the ongoing destruction of fields by swarms of locusts, the domestic demand for supplies for the troops engaged against the Japanese but also by the unreasonable demands of the government who practically took all goods of the local farmers. A poor harvest turned into a colossal tragedy.
American photographer and Time correspondent Theodore White gave us an eye witness account, since Nationalist government in Chongqing decided to hide it. There were reports of cannibalism and White said: "In the mountain districts there were uglier tales of refugees caught on lonely roads and killed for their flesh. How much of this was just gruesome legend and how much truth we could not judge. But we heard the same tales too frequently, in too widely scattered places, to ignore the fact that in Honan human beings were eating their own kind."