Published: Tue, May 25, 2021
Sport | By

Severe weather kills cross-country runners

Severe weather kills cross-country runners

The extreme weather struck a high-altitude section of the 62-mile race held in the scenic Yellow River Stone Forest on Saturday afternoon.

The temperature dropped again during the night due to the area's complex terrain and topography, making the search and rescue more hard.

"This suggests that this incident caused 21 deaths in total", CCTV said. CGTN said that five people were missing, while 16 had died.

"We express deep condolences and sympathy to the families of the victims and the injured", the mayor said.

In a short span, hailstones and ice rain suddenly fell in the local area followed by strong winds as the mercury registered a sharp drop, Zhang said.

A separate report on the website of provincial weather services on Thursday predicted a "significant" drop in temperature in most parts of Gansu - including Baiyin - through Sunday. But by 1 p.m. local time weather conditions had turned, with freezing rain, hail stones and gale winds lashing runners in Gansu County, according to the state-run Global Times.

It's the biggest tragedy in the history of ultrarunning, and it also took the life of elite Chinese runner Jing Liang, who had won this race three times before.

The mountainous race was halted when some of the 172 runners went missing, and a massive rescue operation was launched.

Rescuers worked overnight before confirming 21 people had died.

"My whole body was soaked through, including my shoes and socks".

Other survivors said insulation blankets provided by organisers were blown to shreds by strong winds. "While descending the mountain, I was already experiencing hypothermia symptoms".

Temperatures plummeted again in the mountainous area overnight, making the search more hard, according to Xinhua.

Gansu, one of China's poorest regions, borders Mongolia to the north and Xinjiang to the west.

In the past too, flash floods and landslides have been reported here; in 2010 over 1,000 residents of a town were killed in the mudslides.

CGTN has the latest updates on the Yellow River Stone Forest cross-country mountain race accident.

Long-distance running has gained popularity in China in recent years with the country's growing middle class taking up the sport.

However, Chinese marathons have often been plagued by cheating scandals. It is believed that runners suffered from hypothermia and related medical issues.

So far, a handful of runners have been handed lifetime bans by Chinese sporting authorities for cheating.

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