CHINA: Chinese state media has reported that the provincial authorities have set up an investigation team to look into the deaths of 21 runners during a mountain ultramarathon in North West China. According to the reports, extreme weather struck a high-altitude section of the 100-kilometer race held in the Yellow River Stone Forest in Gansu province on Saturday afternoon.
The reason behind why organizers ignored extreme weather warnings from the city’s Early Warning Information Centre in the lead-up to the marathon remains unsure.
The 21 runners reportedly suffered from physical discomfort and the sudden drop in temperature led to their death. The runners were racing on an extremely narrow mountain path at an altitude reaching 6,500-9,800 feet.
After an all-night rescue operation in freezing temperatures, rescuers confirmed that out of 172 people, 151 were safe.
Race participant Zhang Xiaotao said that the wind was “too strong” and he repeatedly fell over. Zhang added that his limbs were frozen and he felt like he was slowly losing control of his body. “I wrapped my insulation blanket around me, took out my GPS tracker, pressed the SOS button, and lost consciousness,” he said.
Video footage showed rescuers in winter jackets in the pitch-dark night searching with flashlights along steep hills and narrow paths.
As per reports, Liang Jing, an ultramarathon champion, and Huang Guanjun, who won the men’s hearing-impaired marathon at China’s 2019 National Paralympic Games, were among the victims, state-run media reported.
The deaths of the marathon runners sparked public outrage on Chinese social media. People directed their anger and unhappiness at the government over the lack of proper planning.