China race: Severe weather kills cross-country runners

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image copyrightSTR/AFP via Getty Images

image captionHigh winds and freezing rain hit participants of the race

At least 21 people have died as extreme weather struck a cross-country mountain race in north-western China.

On Saturday high winds and freezing rain hit participants in the 100km (60-mile) race in the Yellow River Stone Forest, a tourist site in Gansu province, state-run media reported.

The race was halted when some of the 172 runners went missing, Xinhua news agency said.

The bodies were found by search-and-rescue teams on Sunday.

Temperatures plummeted again in the mountainous area overnight, making the search more difficult, according to Xinhua. More than 1,200 rescuers had been deployed.

image copyrightSTR/AFP via Getty Images

image captionRescuers brought equipment to help in their search efforts

Officials said 151 runners are confirmed to be safe, and that eight of them were injured.

Zhang Xuchen, mayor of Baiyin city, said a special team was set up to investigate the incident.

Yellow River Stone Forest is a rugged, 50 sq km (20 sq mile) area featuring spectacular stone pillars.

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