Extreme cold weather kills 21 people in China during a cross-country run.

Image Source - Google
Image Source - Google

State media announced Sunday that twenty-one people were killed while running a mountain ultramarathon in northwestern China after hail, freezing rain, and gale winds struck the high-altitude race.

Rescuers were able to report that 151 people out of a total of 172 participants were healthy after an all-night rescue operation in sub-zero temperatures involving more than 700 staff. According to the official Xinhua News Agency, twenty-one people died as a result of physical pain and a sudden drop in temperature.

At an altitude of 2,000-3,000 meters, the runners were running on an extremely narrow mountain course. The 100-kilometer race took place in Baiyin, Gansu province, on Saturday at the Yellow River Stone Forest tourist spot.

The participants were not amateurs. According to the Paper, a state-backed newspaper based in Shanghai, one of the victims was well-known runner Liang Jing, who had won a 100-kilometer race in Ningbo.

According to an account posted online by a race participant who left and made his way to safety, the course was reasonably well-established, having been run four times. But the weather had caught them off balance, and he sensed something wasn’t quite right on the morning of the race on Saturday. The runners were not dressed for the cold, with many of them sporting short-sleeved tops.

Later, he told the Paper that the weather forecast the day before the race did not predict the severe weather they experienced.

From kilometer 24 to kilometer 36, the most challenging section climbed 1,000 meters. The route there, he said, was just a mix of stones and sand, and the cold made his fingers numb. He was still dazed when he eventually decided to turn around. He said he made it to safety and encountered a rescue team. He did not respond to a message left on his social media account requesting comment.

According to a reporter for state broadcaster CCTV, those who needed help were farther down the route and had dropped deep into mountain crevices. Rescuers in winter coats searched with flashlights along steep hills and narrow paths in the dead of night, according to video footage.

Later Sunday, Baiyin City Mayor Zhang Xuchen held a press conference in which he apologized profusely for his position as the event’s organizer.