An investigation into the deaths of 21 runners during a mountain ultramarathon in northwest China was launched, as harrowing testimony from survivors who battled to safety through freezing temperatures and bone-chilling winds emerged.
Extreme weather hit a high-altitude section of the 100-kilometer (62-mile) race Saturday afternoon in Gansu province’s scenic Yellow River Stone Forest.
According to state media, provincial authorities have formed an investigation team to look into the cause of the incident, as questions arose about why organizers allegedly ignored extreme weather warnings from the city’s Early Warning Information Center in the days leading up to the race, which attracted 172 runners.
China’s top sports body has also promised to tighten safety regulations for events held across the country.
Strong winds ripped the insulation blankets provided by organizers to shreds, according to other survivors. One told state media that as he fought his way down the mountain, he saw many people lying on the ground, some of whom he assumed were dead.