20 runners dead as extreme weather hits China ultramarathon

At least 16 runners dead as extreme weather hits China cross-country race report

On Saturday high winds and freezing rain hit participants in the 100km (60-mile) race in the Yellow River Stone Forest, a tourist site in Gansu province, state-run media reported.

Twenty-one runners have died in a mountain race in northwestern China after the weather suddenly deteriorated.

Provincial authorities have set up an investigation team to look into the cause of the incident, state media reported, as questions swirled over why organisers apparently ignored extreme weather warnings from the city's Early Warning Information Centre in the lead up to the race, which attracted 172 runners.

"At first I was a bit regretful, thinking it might have just been a passing shower, but when I saw the strong winds and rains later through my hotel room window, I felt so lucky that I made the decision", Mao told Reuters. "I wrapped my insulation blanket around me, took out my Global Positioning System tracker, pressed the SOS button and lost consciousness".

Saturday's race had offered runners 1,600 yuan (US$248, £176) each if they completed the event.

The runners were racing on an extremely narrow mountain path at an altitude reaching 2,000-3,000 meters (6,500-9,800 feet). CGTN said that five people were missing, while 16 had died.

"The rain really hurt, and the winds were so strong that you could only squint", he said.

Province reporting 1691 new COVID-19 cases, 326 in Mississauga and Brampton
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Another survivor was quoted as saying most victims were "gods" of the sport who were frontrunners in the race.

A woman who worked for the race organizer, Gansu Shengjing Sports Culture Development Co., said there were no predictions of extreme weather for the day of the race, according to Beijing News, a paper owned by the Beijing city government.

Gansu Meteorological Bureau warned of "sudden heavy showers, hail, lightning, sudden gale-force winds" and other adverse weather conditions across the province in a report dated Friday.

Among the dead were elite Chinese long-distance runners, local media reported.

The deaths sparked public outrage on Chinese social media, with anger mainly directed at the Baiyin government and unhappiness over the lack of contingency planning.

Six participants were aided by a local shepherd who guided them to a cave dwelling, per the Paper of Shanghai.

"This is purely a man-made disaster", wrote one.

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