China cross-country race leaves 21 dead due to extreme weather

Tanya Simon
May 25, 2021

CCTV also reported on Sunday that the Saturday race, held at the Yellow River Stone Forest tourist site in Jingtai County, which is under the administration of Baiyin City, saw at least 20 dead, while one person remains missing.

High winds and freezing rain hit the sit in the Gansu province, with temperatures rapidly plummeting to zero degrees on Saturday night.

The rescue headquarters quoted by the official Xinhua News Agency said the participants suffered from physical discomfort and the sudden drop in temperature.

The last missing runner was found dead at 9:30am on Sunday, state television reported.

Baiyin Mayor Zhang Xuchen held a news conference later Sunday and profoundly apologized as the organizer of the event.

'In a short period of time, hailstones and ice rain suddenly fell in the local area, and there were strong winds.

More than 1,200 rescuers, assisted by thermal-imaging drones and radar detectors, deployed across the area, recovered151 runners safely.

Alongside elite athletes Jing and Guanjun, local media reported father-of-one Lu Zhengyi as one of the victims. Liang Jing, a well-known 31-year-old ultramarathon champion, was among those who died.

The runners got into trouble after the race was hit by freezing temperatures.

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Another 151 participants were confirmed safe, of which eight with minor injuries were treated in the hospital and in stable condition, according to People's Daily.

Rescuers worked overnight before confirming 21 people had died.

'My whole body was soaked through, including my shoes and socks. "While descending the mountain, I was already experiencing hypothermia symptoms". 'Come and save us, quick!'

Meanwhile, the blame game has already started with the Chinese public directing their anger at the Baiyin government over the lack of contingency planning.

"The local organisers have an inescapable responsibility for the bad weather in the marathon!"

"Why didn't the government read the weather forecast and do a risk assessment?" one commentator wrote.

More accounts have since emerged about the race, which began at 09:00 local time (01:00 GMT) on Saturday.

Provincial authorities have set up an investigation team to look into the cause of the incident, Zhang said.

Repeated calls to Baiyin city propaganda department were not answered.

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