Beijing [China], May 24 (ANI): After 21 people were killed due to hail, freezing rain and high winds during an ultramarathon in China's northwestern Gansu province, the Chinese government and state media have criticised officials for putting profit above safety while organising extreme sports events.
According to South China Morning Post (SCMP), in one of the deadliest incidents in Chinese sporting history, at least 21 competitors in a 100 km mountain ultramarathon died after being caught in freezing weather, as per media reports on Sunday.
China's top disciplinary watchdog also ordered provincial authorities to carry out an in-depth investigation into the event as runners, most of whom were not carrying warm weather clothing, were hit by icy rain on the mountain trail.
So far, 151 participants have been confirmed to be safe, of which five with injuries are being treated in the hospital. As many as 172 people took part in the race.
The victims who took part in the sports event, many of whom suffered hypothermia, included some of the country's best long-distance runners. Survivors said there were no supplies available on that section of the course and they said the terrain was so steep that motorbikes could not reach it.
The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection published a commentary on its website on Sunday criticising 'certain' officials who were too eager to profit from extreme sporting events without ensuring proper safety measures were placed, reported SCMP.
"While marathon events are shooting up across the nation, some [local governments] are organising these events to cash in on the economic potential ... Certain event [organisers] are eyeing the economic benefits and are reluctant to invest in support and safety," said the commentary.
"The death toll of this sporting competition has exceeded 10 per cent. There must be a thorough investigation to find out its causes and hold the relevant [parties] accountable in order to serve the victims and the public justice. The loss of 21 lives must serve an adequate warning to all," it added.
SCMP, citing local media, reported that Zhang Xuchen, mayor of Baiyin bowed in apology to the families of the victims on Sunday.
"This is a public safety incident caused by sudden change of local weather. As the event organiser, we are full of deep regret and remorse. We apologise to the families of the victims and injured [athletes] and our condolences go to you. The provincial government has also set up an investigation task force to follow up the investigation," he said.
Among the deceased were Liang Jing and Huang Guanjun, two of the country's best long-distance runners.
Liang won China's Ultra Gobi in 2018 and came second in the Hong Kong 100 ultra trail race in 2019. Huang was the marathon champion in the 2019 National Paralympic Games' hearing impaired section. (ANI)