China probes deaths of 21 runners

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Beijing

An investigation was underway Monday into the deaths of 21 runners during a mountain ultramarathon in northwest China, as harrowing testimony emerged from survivors who battled to safety through freezing temperatures and bone-chilling winds.

The extreme weather struck a high-altitude section of the 100-kilometre (62-mile) race held in the scenic Yellow River Stone Forest in Gansu province Saturday afternoon.

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.

China’s top sports body also vowed to tighten safety rules on holding events across the country.—Agencies