CHINA: Twenty-one dead from extreme weather in China cross-country 21 in Gansu mountain marathon according to China Asia Daily News
Posted 9h ago, updated 3h ago
LANZHOU – Lasting almost 24 hours, rescue work came to an end after extreme weather killed 21 during a 100-km cross-country mountain marathon race in Baiyin City, northwest China’s Gansu province, the local rescue headquarters said on Sunday.
Rescuers search for missing people at the Yellow River Stone Forest tourist site in Jingtai County of Baiyin City, northwest China’s Gansu Province, May 23, 2021. (PHOTO / XINHUA)
By noon on Sunday, the remains of all 21 victims had been transferred from the site of the incident, said the rescue headquarters. Over 1,200 well-equipped rescuers took part in the operation.
The marathon, with a total of 172 participants, was held on Saturday morning in the Yellow River Stone Forest tourist site in Jingtai County, Baiyin City
Another 151 participants were confirmed safe, of whom eight with minor injuries were treated in hospital and are in stable condition.
The public safety incident was caused by a sudden change in local weather, and the province has set up an investigation team to look further into the cause of the incident, said Zhang Xuchen, mayor of Baiyin City, at a press briefing on Sunday morning.
“As the organizer of the event, we feel a deep sense of guilt and remorse. We express our deep condolences and sympathies to the bereaved families and the victims,” said Zhang.
The marathon, with a total of 172 participants, was held on Saturday morning in the Yellow River Stone Forest tourist site in Jingtai County, Baiyin City.
The 100-kilometre race began in a lush tourist site at a bend in the Yellow River, China’s second longest.
The route would take runners through deep canyons in a rugged landscape.
Around noon on Saturday (local time), 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.
The rescue headquarters quoted by the official Xinhua News Agency said participants suffered when temperatures plummeted.
“Participants suffered from physical discomfort and loss of temperature due to the sudden drop in air temperature,” the rescue headquarters said.
Some runners went missing in the extreme weather around 1pm Saturday, when the race was halted.
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 9:30am Beijing time on Sunday, state media reported.
Over 1,200 rescuers were dispatched, assisted by thermal-imaging drones, radar detectors and demolition equipment, according to Xinhua.
The operation was made difficult by low nighttime temperatures and the area’s complex terrain.
Runner sensed things were not normal
The runners were racing on an extremely narrow mountain path at an altitude reaching 2,000-3,000 metres, but participants were not rookies.
One of the deceased was well-known runner Liang Jing, who had won a 100km race in Ningbo, reported The Paper, a state-backed newspaper based in Shanghai.
It was a relatively established course, having been held four times, according to an account posted online by a participant in the race who quit and managed to make his way to safety.
But the weather had caught them off guard, and on the morning of the race on Saturday, he already sensed things were not normal.
The runners were not dressed for winter-like conditions, many wearing short-sleeved tops.
“I ran 2 kilometres before the starting gun fired to warm up … but the troublesome thing was, after running these 2 kilometres, my body still had not heated up,” the competitor said on his WeChat account “Wandering about the South”, which has been viewed 100,000 times.
He later told The Paper that the forecast the day prior to the race did not predict the extreme weather they encountered.
The most difficult section, 24 to 36 kilometres into the track, climbed 1,000 metres. There, he said the path was just a mix of stones and sand, and his fingers grew numb from the cold.
When he finally decided to turn back, he already felt dazed. He said he was able to make it to safety and met rescue crew members.
Those farther along the path, who needed rescue, had fallen off deep into mountain crevices, according to a reporter for state broadcaster CCTV.
Baiyin city Mayor Zhang Xuchen held a news conference later on Sunday and profoundly apologised as the organiser of the event.
“We express deep condolences and sympathy to the families of the victims and the injured,” the mayor said.
Gansu, one of China’s poorest regions, borders Mongolia to the north and Xinjiang to the west.
Deadly floods and landslides have hit the province in the past, with mudslides reportedly killing well over 1,000 people in one town in 2010.
It is also prone to earthquakes.
Yellow River Stone Forest is famous for its rugged mountain scenery marked by stone stalagmites and pillars, and is used as a location in many Chinese television shows and movies, according to the China Daily.
Its rock formations are believed to be 4 billion years old, the Daily said.
ABC/Wires/Reuters/China Asia Daily News/
#AceNewsDesk report ………Published: May.23: 2021:
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