The 100 km race started at a lush tourist spot on a bend in the Yellow River, the second longest in China. The route would take runners through deep canyons in rugged landscape. The race started on Saturday morning with runners dressed in t-shirts and shorts under an overcast sky, according to photographs posted on the social media account of the Yellow River Stone Forest Scenic Area in Jingtai, a county under the jurisdiction of the city of Baiyin.
Around noon on Saturday, a mountainous part of the race was affected by hail, freezing rain and gales, with temperatures dropping sharply, Baiyin officials said at a press briefing on Sunday.
151 people confirmed safe
A total of 172 people took part in the race. As of Sunday, 151 participants were confirmed safe and sound, including injuries, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Eight were slightly injured at 8 a.m. Beijing time on Sunday, Baiyin officials said.
A massive rescue effort has been launched, with more than 1,200 rescuers dispatched, aided by thermal imaging drones, radar detectors and demolition equipment, according to Xinhua.
Temperatures dropped again overnight due to the region’s complex terrain and topography, making search and rescue more difficult, Xinhua said.
The last missing runner was found dead at 9:30 a.m. Sunday, state television reported.
A landslide resulting from inclement weather also hampered rescue operations, officials said in Baiyin, about 1,000 km west of the Chinese capital Beijing.
Baiyin Mayor Zhang Xuchen held a press conference later on Sunday and deeply apologized as the event organizer.
“We express our sincere condolences and sympathy to the families of the victims and injured,” said the mayor.