The first group of 15 earthquake relief workers handling the Tangjiashan quake-formed lake in Sichuan Province took on a helicopter at 8:35 a.m. Saturday and were evacuated from the dam site.
The evacuees are mainly members of the water and electricity section of the People's Armed Police Force. They headed for the Nanjiao Military Airport in Mianyang city for rest, a Xinhua reporter said at the site.
A total of 350 relief workers are expected to leave the swelling quake-induced Tangjiashan lake on Saturday. Others, except some to stay for observation, are required to leave the lake by Sunday noon.
Tan Li, Communist Party chief of Mianyang and head of Mianyang City Quake Control and Relief Headquarters, on Friday renewed an order that 1.3 million people living downstream from Tangjiashan must be evacuated to higher grounds demarcated by the government.
At 4 p.m. Thursday, Tan issued a No. 1 order demanding that about 200,000 people living downstream from Tangjiashan in the main urban districts of Mianyang should start evacuation by 8 a.m. Saturday. The evacuation must be completed by 8 a.m. Sunday.
Two other plans require the relocation of 1.2 million people if the half of the lake volume is released, or 1.3 million if the barrier of the quake lake fully opens.
As of 6:30 p.m. Friday, 174,708 people had been moved from Mianyang with nearly half being evacuated on Friday alone.
(Xinhua News Agency May 31, 2008)