The first group of 499 villagers was moved Wednesday in central China’s Hubei province and a total of 60,000 people were to be relocated by Sept. 30, the official Xinhua News Agency said Thursday. The rest will be moved by 2014, it said.
The South-North Water Diversion Project will siphon water from the Yangtze River to serve drought-prone north China cities such as Beijing and Tianjin.
Danjiangkou city in Hubei is to eventually submerged under 170 yards (meters) of water, it said. Residents from the city’s Niuhelin district were the first batch to be moved out.
“I am surprised nobody cried when the coaches left our village. Last night, we felt sorrow when the whole village gathered to have our last dinner in our hometown together,” a villager surnamed Wang was quoted as saying.