Severe weather kills 21 cross-country runners in China

Beijing: Twenty-one ultra-marathon runners were killed and eight other injured in northwest China after high winds and freezing rain suddenly struck the participants of a 100-km cross-country mountain race at the weekend, rescue officials said on Sunday.

Extreme weather hit participants in the race on Saturday in the Yellow River Stone Forest, a tourist site in Gansu province, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Twenty-one people were killed in the tragedy, officials said on Sunday.

A total of 172 people participated in the mountain marathon. Most competitors were wearing thin shorts and T-shirts, according to a media report. Liang Jing, one of China's well known ultra-marathon runners, was among those who died, a Hong Kong marathon group called Hong Kong 100 Ultra Marathon confirmed via a statement released on Sunday.

The marathon group said Liang had been a "favourite" member of the Hong Kong trail-racing community. He regularly participated in the annual Hong Kong 100-kilometer trail race, and was the runner-up in the last two years, it added. It also described him as "one of the best ultra-endurance athletes in the world" and expressed condolences to his family. The rescue work, which lasted almost 24 hours, was completed on Sunday and the remains of all 21 victims had been transferred from the site of the incident, the rescue headquarters said.

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