China: 21 dead in ultra-long distance race hit by extreme weather

Twenty-one people died among the participants of a 100 km race Saturday, May 22 in the mountains in northwestern China, under the sudden effect of severe weather conditions.

All the other competitors are safe and sound, since “At 3 o’clock in the morning Sunday [23 mai], 151 participants [étaient] safe “, according to the official China news agency. A total of 172 people took part in the race taking place in the Stone Forest of the Yellow River, near the town of Baiyin, in the province of Gansu (northwest of the country).

A runner who was reported missing was found at 9:30 a.m. local time, but “Had already lost his life”, noted the CCTV television channel, citing the local first aid center. “This implies that this incident killed 21 people in total”, CCTV added.

Two dead national figures

Among these victims are two national figures of the marathon, Liang Jing and Huang Guanjun, said the local press, relying on the testimonies of the trainer of the first, Wei Pulong, and a friend of the second, who has said he had confirmation of Huang’s death from the organizers of the event.

Liang Jing had won several multi-marathons in China in recent years. Huang Guanjun, who was deaf and mute, won the men’s marathon for the hearing impaired at the 2019 National Paralympic Games in Tianjin.

Eight participants were treated in hospital for minor injuries, said the mayor of Baiyin, Zhang Xuchen. New China reported that some competitors were suffering from hypothermia.

“Disastrous” weather conditions

“Around noon, the high altitude stretch of the 20 to 31 kilometer race was suddenly affected by dire weather conditions. In no time, hailstones and freezing rain suddenly fell in this area, and there were strong winds. The temperature has dropped sharply ”, Zhang Xuchen said.

Shortly after receiving calls for help from some participants, the marathon organizers dispatched a rescue team that managed to save 18 participants, according to the city councilor. At around 2 p.m., weather conditions worsened and the race was canceled, as local authorities sent more aid to the scene.

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700 rescuers mobilized

In total, more than 700 rescuers were mobilized to search for the missing. Local media footage showed rescue workers in fatigues with headlamps scaling the rocky terrain at night. Ultra-long runners were filmed wrapped in emergency blankets.

“My whole body was soaked, including my shoes and socks. I couldn’t stand up straight because of the wind, I was very afraid of being blown away. The cold has become more and more unbearable ”, said a survivor. “Coming down the mountain, I was already experiencing symptoms of hypothermia. “

Temperatures fell further overnight, making rescue and research even more difficult, according to New China.


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