Anger and confusion reign after a horrific attack in China left at least 21 people dead due to harsh weather conditions. The mayor of China’s Baiyin City, Zhang Xuchen, passed the dust on behalf of the Running Organization to apologize. “Our thoughts go to the families of the victims.”
The sun was still shining at the start of the 100km race in Gansu Province, northwest China. As a result, many candidates started the track with a T-shirt and shorts. But by midday, the weather turned and the cold, sleet and strong winds caused a massive drop in temperature in the mountainous region.
Frozen tongue and numb fingers
The organization of the running event suddenly received all kinds of videos with cries for help from the participating runners suffering from severe hypothermia. “I couldn’t feel my fingers and my tongue also looked frozen,” one survivor told a local newspaper afterwards. He and fifty other people waited for help in a log cabin near the road.
In cooperation with local authorities, the organization launched a rescue operation with 700 aid workers who searched for the other missing candidates until late into the night. On Sunday morning, local authorities said 151 participants were found safely, but at least 21 people have died and many runners are still missing.
fingers in the mouth
Another participant wrote down his experience in a blog post afterwards and posted it while the rescue was still in full swing. “I have been in this race a few times. The problem this weekend was the severe weather. There is a part where you have to climb with your hands and feet. When I started climbing, someone came back. He said it was too cold in there. I said to myself, should I stop Now, I waste my registration money and won’t have a chance to win the prize money anymore?”
When the blogger finally doesn’t feel his fingers anymore and doesn’t even help put them in his mouth anymore, he decides to stop the race anyway and go downhill. “Step by step, very carefully. I felt dizzy and had to pay all my attention not to lose consciousness.” He managed to get himself to safety and was one of the first rescuers to take him to a hotel. “Other rescued people told me they saw candidates lying on the ground on the road. But they couldn’t save them because they barely had the energy to get themselves to safety.”
Chinese social media has infuriated the ongoing drama in Gansu. People are wondering why the organizers allowed the event to continue, given the expectation of a sharp drop in temperature. “Why didn’t the government do anything with those weather forecasts?” Said a user on the Chinese website Weibo on Facebook. Another said, “Even if the weather wasn’t predictable, shouldn’t there be a contingency plan?” When groups are running on WeChat, people interact with the news, and there is sympathy for the families of the victims.
Motivate to exercise more
The track of the super rink passes through an area in the mountains at an altitude of 2 km. The marathon has been organized annually at the same venue since 2018 and started as an initiative to encourage people to exercise more. This year, 10,000 people are registered for the event, which consists of three categories: beginner, 21km and 100km.
Mayor Zhang Xuchen expressed his condolences and announced an investigation into the circumstances of the drama.