Extreme weather in China kills 21 in ultramarathon

Rescue workers carry a stretcher as they work at the site where extreme cold weather killed participants of an 100-km ultramarathon race in Baiyin, Gansu province, China May 22, 2021. cnsphoto via REUTERS

Twenty-one people were killed when extremely cold weather struck on Saturday during an ultramarathon in rugged Gansu province in northwestern China, Reuters report.

The 100-km cross-country race was held in the Yellow River Stone Forest, a scenic tourist site in Jingtai county under the jurisdiction of Baiyin. A total of 172 people took part in the race. By Sunday, 151 participants had been confirmed safe, including the injured, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Around noon on Saturday, a mountainous section of the race was hit by hail, freezing rain and gales, with temperatures falling sharply, officials from Baiyin told a news briefing on Sunday.

Many of the runners had suffered from hypothermia and had lost their way in the strong winds and heavy rain, according to messages in the chatroom.

A massive rescue effort has been initiated, with over 1,200 rescuers dispatched, assisted by thermal-imaging drones, radar detectors and demolition equipment, according to Xinhua.

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

A landslip following the severe weather also hampered the rescue work, said officials from Baiyin, about 1,000 km west of the Chinese capital Beijing.