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Nightmare marathon: 21 dead after extreme weather upends 100-km cross-country race in China

Nightmare marathon: 21 dead after extreme weather upends 100-km cross-country race in China
A marathon in northwestern China’s Gansu Province turned into a fight for survival after hail, freezing rain, and strong winds lashed a high-altitude stage of the race, leaving 21 people dead.

The race kicked off Saturday morning in Jingtai Yellow River Stone Forest, a popular tourist attraction and park covering around 50 square kilometers, located southeast of Jingtai County in Gansu Province.

Around 1pm on Saturday, things started going awry in the 100-km (62-mile) cross-country ultramarathon, Xinhua reported. Participants who reached the stage 20 to 31 kilometers out were subjected to freezing rain, hail, and extremely strong gusts of wind. The sudden change in the weather reportedly resulted in hypothermia for several participants of the 172-person marathon. The event was ultimately suspended after the organizers lost contact with several members of the race.


Over 1,200 rescuers have been involved in the search for missing people. Heavy machinery and multiple vehicles were spotted at the scene.

The effort has been hindered by the rocky terrain and the weather. Making matters worse, a landslide hit the area shortly after the drop in temperature, further complicating the search.

As of Sunday morning, 151 people were located and confirmed to be safe, according to Chinese media. Eight were treated for minor injuries. 

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The race was backed by the local Communist Party branch and municipal officials, Xinhua reported.

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