At least 21 people have been killed after hail, freezing rain and high winds struck during an ultramarathon in China’s northwestern Gansu province, local officials said.
“At around noon, the high-altitude section of the race between 20 and 31 kilometres was suddenly affected by disastrous weather. In a short period of time, hailstones and ice rain suddenly fell in the local area, and there were strong winds. The temperature sharply dropped,” said Baiyin city mayor Zhang Xuchen.
At about 2pm (06:00 GMT), weather conditions worsened and the race was immediately called off as local authorities sent more rescuers to help, Zhang added.
A further eight runners were being treated in hospital for minor injuries, Zhang said.
Temperatures in the mountainous terrain dropped further overnight, Xinhua said, making search and rescue “more difficult”.
Gansu, one of China’s poorest regions, borders Mongolia to the north and Xinjiang to the west.
Deadly floods and landslides have hit the province in the past, with mudslides reportedly killing well more than 1,000 people in one town in 2010.
It is also prone to earthquakes. -ALJAZEERA