Share
News

Extreme Weather Claims 21 Lives in Ultramarathon Disaster

Share

Twenty-one people running a mountain ultramarathon died in northwestern China after hail, freezing rain and gale-force winds hit the high-altitude race, state media reported Sunday.

After an all-night rescue operation in freezing temperatures involving more than 700 personnel, rescuers were able to confirm that 151 people were safe out of a total of 172 participants.

Twenty-one had died, according to the official Xinhua News Agency, which said the runners suffered from physical discomfort and the sudden drop in temperature.

The runners were racing on an extremely narrow mountain path at an altitude reaching 6,500-9,800 feet.

The 60-mile race was held Saturday in the Yellow River Stone Forest tourist site in Baiyin city in Gansu province.

Trending:
Former NYPD Chief Calls Big Brian Laundrie Development 'Very Strange,' Suggests 'Something Is Amiss'

Participants were not rookies. One of the deceased was well-known runner Liang Jing, who had won a 62-mile race in Ningbo, reported the Paper, a state-backed newspaper based in Shanghai.

A woman who worked for the race organizer, Gansu Shengjing Sports Culture Development Co., said there were no predictions of extreme weather for the day of the race, according to Beijing News, a paper owned by the Beijing city government.

However, Baiyin city’s local branch of the National Early Warning Information Center had warned for the past three days of hail and strong winds.

The ultramarathon also followed a relatively established course, having been held four times, according to an account posted online by a participant in the race who quit and managed to make his way to safety.

Do you trust China to provide accurate information about this disaster?

But the weather caught the runners off guard, and on the morning of the race Saturday, he already sensed things were not normal. The runners were not dressed for winter-like conditions, many wearing short-sleeved tops.

“I ran 2 kilometers before the starting gun fired to warm up … but the troublesome thing was, after running these 2 kilometers, my body still had not heated up,” the competitor said in a first-person account that has been viewed more than 100,000 times on his WeChat account “Wandering about the South.”

He later told the Paper that the forecast the day prior to the race did not predict the extreme weather they encountered.

The most difficult section, from mile 15 to mile 22, climbed 3,280 feet. There, he said, the path was just a mix of stones and sand, and his fingers grew numb from the cold.

When he finally decided to turn back, he already felt dazed. He said he was able to make it to safety and met a rescue crew.

Related:
China Says Taiwan Is 'Inalienable Part' of Its Territory and There Is 'No Room' for Compromise

He did not respond to a request for comment left on his social media account.

Some runners farther along the course had fallen off the trail into deep mountain crevices, according to a reporter for state broadcaster CCTV. It was not clear how many of them survived.

Video footage showed rescuers in winter jackets in the pitch-dark night searching with flashlights along steep hills and narrow paths. Search operations ended by noon Sunday, rescuers told Xinhua.



Online, some wondered what, if any, preparations organizers had made in the event of an emergency.

The race organizer did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment Sunday.

Baiyin Mayor Zhang Xuchen held a news conference later Sunday and profoundly apologized as the organizer of the event. The government promised a full investigation.

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

The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →



loading

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

Tags:
, , , , ,
Share
The Associated Press is an independent, not-for-profit news cooperative headquartered in New York City. Their teams in over 100 countries tell the world’s stories, from breaking news to investigative reporting. They provide content and services to help engage audiences worldwide, working with companies of all types, from broadcasters to brands.
The Associated Press was the first private sector organization in the U.S. to operate on a national scale. Over the past 170 years, they have been first to inform the world of many of history's most important moments, from the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the bombing of Pearl Harbor to the fall of the Shah of Iran and the death of Pope John Paul.

Today, they operate in 263 locations in more than 100 countries relaying breaking news, covering war and conflict and producing enterprise reports that tell the world's stories.
Location
New York City




loading

Conversation