Freak Weather Event Kills 20 During Ultramarathon in China

BEIJING—At least 20 people were killed when extremely cold weather struck during an ultramarathon on Saturday in China’s northwestern Gansu province, local government officials said a day later.

Another eight had been injured, officials from Baiyin city told the press at 8 a.m. Beijing time on Sunday.

The 62-mile (100-kilometer) cross-country race was held on Saturday morning in the Yellow River Stone Forest, a scenic tourist site in Jingtai county under the jurisdiction of Baiyin.

“At around noon, the high-altitude section of the race between 20 and 31 kilometres was suddenly affected by disastrous weather. In a short period of time, hailstones and ice rain suddenly fell in the local area, and there were strong winds. The temperature sharply dropped,” said Baiyin city mayor Zhang Xuchen.

The race was called off around 2 p.m. when weather conditions worsened.

“This incident is a public safety incident caused by sudden changes in weather in a local area,” Zhang said. He added that provincial authorities would launch an investigation.

A total of 172 people took part in the race. As of Sunday, 151 participants had been confirmed safe, including the injured, official Chinese state media Xinhua news agency reported.

One runner is still missing, officials said. More than 700 rescuers have been deployed by the local government.

China marathon
Rescuers assisting people who were competing in a 100-kilometre cross-country mountain race on May 22, 2021, when extreme weather hit near the city of Baiyin in China’s northwestern Gansu province, leaving at least 20 dead. (AFP via Getty Images)

Temperatures dropped again during the night due to the area’s complex terrain and topography, making the search and rescue more difficult, state media reported.

A landslide following the severe weather also hampered the rescue work, Baiyin officials said.

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Author: Reuters

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