At least 21 ultra-marathon runners have died after extreme weather conditions hit a 100-kilometer (62-mile) mountain race in northwest China.
The high-altitude Huanghe Shilin Mountain Marathon began on Saturday morning in sunny conditions. But by 1 p.m. local time weather conditions had turned, with freezing rain, hail stones and gale winds lashing runners in Gansu County, according to the state-run Global Times.
Liang Jing, one of China’s well known ultra-marathon runners, was among those who died.
As temperatures dropped in the Yellow River Stone Forest, runners started reported suffering from hypothermia, while others went missing.
The marathon organizers called off the race and launched a search party of 1,200 people to scour the complicated terrain. The search operation continued after dark.
Most competitors were wearing thin shorts and T-shirts.
By Sunday morning, 151 of the 172 race participants had been confirmed safe, with eight in hospital. Another 21 were found dead, according to the state-run People’s Daily.
The race’s distance of 100 kilometers was more than double that of a standard marathon.