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21 Runners Killed in China Ultramarathon Due to Weather Conditions

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Unforeseen weather conditions struck China on Saturday, May 21. While participants geared up for the China ultramarathon long-distance race, little did they know what lay ahead of them. Severe weather conditions took the lives of 21 runners and left many more injured.

The extreme weather consisted of high winds and freezing rain. The ultramarathon was a 100km (60 mile) race. The race involved the area of Yellow River Stone Forest, a tourist site in Gansu Province.


Number of people injured during China ultramarathon

The situation escalated when 172 runners went missing, and the race halted. A rescue operation soon began searching for the participants. Many of the stranded runners suffered hypothermia.

The state-run media also reported that two eminent personalities were among the victims. The victims were Liang Jing, an ultramarathon champion, and other was Huang Guanjan. Jing was a winner under the category men’s hearing-impaired marathon at China’s 2019 National Paralympic Games.

The final report that came from the officials stated 8 of the runners to be injured. On the other hand, 151 runners marked safe.

On May 21, the race began at 9 am (local time). Some competitors set off only in t-shirts and shorts. When the surviving participants were interviewed, they replied that they saw the forecast for some rain accompanied by wind. It was anticipated; however, nothing as catastrophic was expected compared to what they experienced.

The officials from the nearby Baiyin city reported that within three hours the race kicked off, a section of the mountain was hit by heavy rain, hail, and gales. The mountainous area was a part of the race, and the extreme weather conditions caused temperatures to drop at high speed.

A China ultramarathon participant shared insights

Mao Shuzi, a witness and a participant of the race reported that she turned around when the weather deteriorated. She also added that she was already into the race for about 24km and did not hit the mountains when the rain took a bad shape. Hence, she decided to reroute her destination towards her hotel. Mao Shuzi had a previous bad experience with hypothermia. Further, Mao Shuzi stated that other participants carried on or had reached the worst-hit areas.

Reports stated that many runners lost their way due to the weather turbulence, which eventually resulted in low visibility.

The state media was quick to respond and reported that more than 1200 rescuers were deployed. Further, in assistance, there were thermal imaging aerial drones and radar detectors.

China’s Xinhua news agency made a report which stated that the rescue operation continued throughout the night and ended on May 23. Searching for casualties was difficult during the rescue operation due to the weather condition. A further drop in the temperature made things worse.

Chinese netizens criticized the government for lack of planning

The Chinese social media observed having a massive outrage from the public. Many people called out the government due to the number of deaths from the incident. The people were angry with the Baiyin Government. The main reason for unhappiness was the lack of contingency planning.

Baiyin’s Mayor Zhang Xuchen expressed condolences in a news conference on May 23. It came after the Baiyin Government faced outrage due to their lack of forecasting.

He added that as the main organizer of the event, they are full of guilt and remorse. The government also conveyed their sympathy to the victims’ families and the ones injured.