Extreme weather in China kills 21 runners in ultra-marathon

The deaths sparked public outrage on Chinese social media, some claiming it to a totally a man-made calamity.

Twenty one ultra-marathon runners have died after extreme weather conditions hit a 100-kilometer (62-mile) mountain race in northwest China.

The high-altitude Huanghe Shilin Mountain Marathon began on Saturday morning in sunny conditions. The race began from a lush tourist site at a bend in the Yellow River, China's second-longest.

The route would take runners through deep canyons and undulating hills on an arid plateau at an elevation of more than 1,000 metres (3,300 feet). But by 1 p.m. local time weather conditions had turned, with freezing rain, hail stones and gale winds lashing runners in Gansu County,

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

A landslide following the severe weather also hindered the rescue work. A total of 172 people took part in the race. By Sunday, 151 participants had been confirmed safe, while a last missing runner was found dead at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday.

Jingtai County saw a low of 6 degrees Celsius (43 degrees Fahrenheit) on Saturday excluding wind chill. A separate report on the website of provincial weather services on Thursday also predicted a "significant" drop in temperature in most parts of Gansu - including Baiyin - through Sunday.

The deaths sparked public outrage on Chinese social media, with anger mainly directed at the Baiyin government over the lack of contingency planning. Some claims it to a totally a man-made calamity. Baiyin officials bowed and apologised, saying they were saddened by the tragic deaths of the runners and that they were to be blamed.

The Gansu provincial government has set up an investigation team to further look into the cause of the deaths.

India Scanner News Network

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