Severe weather kills 21 ultramarathon runners

·1-min read
Photo credit: STR - Getty Images
Photo credit: STR - Getty Images
  • 21 ultramarathon runners have died after extreme weather hit a long-distance event in north-western China.

  • The 60-mile ultramarathon took place in the Yellow River Stone Forest, a tourist site in Gansu province, on Saturday.

High winds and freezing rain hit the runners during the 100km ultramarathon. The event was halted when some of the 172 runners went missing in the awful conditions. A rescue operation was launched, but sadly 21 ultramarathon runners died.

Many of the stranded runners were suffering from hypothermia when they were found. Officials said 151 runners have now been confirmed safe, eight of them were injured.

Surviving runners said the weather forecast had predicted wind and rain, but nothing as bad as extreme as what they experienced on Saturday. Some runners set off in shorts and t-shirts.

Photo credit: STR - Getty Images
Photo credit: STR - Getty Images

Three hours after the start of the race, part of the course was reportedly hit with heavy rain and hail, causing temperatures to plummet. Runners are said to have lost their way in the bad visibility.

According to state media, more than 1200 rescuers were sent out to look for the runners, using thermal-imaging drones and radar detectors.

In a press conference on Sunday, Baiyin's Mayor Zhang Xuchen said: 'As the organiser of the event, we are full of guilt and remorse. We express deep condolences and sympathy to the families of the victims and the injured.'

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