21 ultramarathon runners in northwest China have died after weather conditions had turned

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A 100-kilometer (62-mile) mountain race in northwest China which began on the the high-altitude Huanghe Shilin Mountain turned in a tragedy when local time weather conditions had turned, with freezing rain, hail stones and gale winds lashing runners in Gansu County. Twenty one ultra-marathon runners have died. Liang Jing, one of China’s well known ultra-marathon runners, was among those who died. He regularly participated in the annual Hong Kong 100-kilometer trail race, and was the runner-up in the last two years. Runners suffered hypothermia, while others went missing. Several decided to turn back due to the cold. “At one point, I couldn’t feel my fingers (because it was so cold). At the same time my tongue felt frozen, too,” a survivor said.

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There were 172 race participants. Some of the runners sent messages asking for help. The contest was called off when the runners were endangered. Video footage showed rescuers in winter jackets in the pitch dark night searching with flashlights along steep hills and narrow paths.The ultramarathon was supposed to promote tourism in Gansu province. News of the deaths sparked lots of outrage in China. The government was accused to have not done enough to prepare for the race. There had been warning of hail and strong winds for the past three days. “We express deep condolences and sympathy to the families of the victims and the injured,” Baiyin city Mayor Zhang Xuchen said.