Twenty-one people died among the participants in a 100-kilometer race on Saturday, May 22, in the mountains in northwestern China, under the sudden effect of severe weather conditions.
All the other competitors are safe and sound, since “At 3 o’clock in the morning on Sunday, 151 participants [étaient] safe “, according to the official news agency China New, which said that a total of 172 people took part in the race taking place in the stone forest of the Yellow River, near the town of Baiyin, in the province of Gansu.
A runner who was reported missing was found at 9:30 a.m. local time (3:30 a.m. KST), but he “Had already lost his life”, noted the CCTV television channel, citing the local first aid center. “This implies that this incident killed 21 people in total”, added CCTV. City officials had previously reported 20 dead and one missing.
Two national figures of the marathon among the victims
Among them, two national figures of the marathon, Liang Jing and Huang Guanjun, said the local press, relying on the testimonies of the trainer of the first, Wei Pulong, and a friend of the second, who said to have confirmation of Huang’s death by the organizers of the event.
Liang had won several marathons in China in recent years. Huang, who was deaf and mute, won the men’s marathon for the hearing impaired at the 2019 National Paralympic Games in Tianjin.
Eight participants were also treated in hospital for minor injuries, said the mayor of Baiyin, Zhang Xuchen. New China had previously reported that some competitors were suffering from hypothermia.
“Around noon, the high altitude stretch of the 20 to 31 kilometer race was suddenly affected by dire weather conditions. In no time, hailstones and freezing rain suddenly fell in this area, and there were strong winds. The temperature has dropped sharply ”, a relaté Zhang Xuchen.
Shortly after receiving calls for help from some participants, the marathon organizers dispatched a rescue team who managed to save 18 of them, according to the city councilor. At around 2 p.m., the weather conditions worsened and the race was canceled, while local authorities sent more aid to the scene, he continued.
“This incident is a public safety incident caused by sudden changes in the weather in a local area”he said, adding that provincial authorities would investigate his case further.
More than 700 rescuers mobilized
In total, more than 700 rescuers were mobilized to search for the missing. Local media footage showed rescue workers in fatigues with headlamps scaling the rocky terrain at night. Ultra-long runners were filmed wrapped in emergency blankets.
“My whole body was soaked, including my shoes and socks. I couldn’t stand up straight because of the wind, I was very afraid of being blown away. The cold has become more and more unbearable, a survivor told local media. Coming down the mountain, I was already experiencing symptoms of hypothermia. ” Temperatures fell further overnight, making search and rescue even more difficult, New China said.
Gansu, one of the poorest regions in China, borders Mongolia to the north and Xinjiang to the west. Deadly floods and landslides have hit the province in the past, with landslides reportedly killing more than 1,000 people in one town in 2010. It is also prone to earthquakes.
The Yellow River Stone Forest is famous for its rugged mountain scenery marked by stalagmites and stone pillars, and is used as a setting in many Chinese TV shows and movies, according to the daily. China Daily.