Twenty-one people running a mountain ultra-marathon have died in northwestern China after hail, freezing rain and gale force winds hit the high-altitude race, state media reported on Sunday.
After an all-night rescue operation in freezing temperatures involving more than 700 personnel, rescuers were able to confirm that 151 people were safe, out of a total of 172 participants. Twenty-one had died, according to the official Xinhua News Agency, which said the runners suffered from physical discomfort and the sudden drop in temperature.
The runners were racing on an extremely narrow mountain path at an altitude reaching 2,000-3,000 metres. The 100-kilometre race was held on Saturday in the Yellow River Stone Forest tourist site in Baiyin city in Gansu province.
The participants were not rookies. One of the deceased was a well-known runner Liang Jing, who had won a 100km race in Ningbo, reported the Paper, a state-backed newspaper based in Shanghai.