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China punishes 27 officials after deadly ultramarathon


Rescue workers carry a stretcher as they work at the site where extreme cold weather killed participants of an 100-km ultramarathon race

FILE PHOTO: Rescue workers carry a stretcher as they work at the site where extreme cold weather killed participants of an 100-km ultramarathon race in Baiyin, Gansu province, China May 22, 2021. cnsphoto via REUTERS/File Photo

BEIJING— China has punished 27 government officials deemed responsible for last month’s ultramarathon deaths, the state-run People’s Daily said on Friday, one of the world’s deadliest sporting tragedies in recent history.

Twenty-one people died of hypothermia when extremely cold weather suddenly descended on a government-organized 100 km marathon on May 22 in the rugged northwestern province of Gansu.

The head of Jingtai county, where the race was held, was dismissed from her post, the People’s Daily reported, citing a news briefing by investigators.

Other organizers held accountable included the mayor and the Communist Party chief of the city of Baiyin, to which the jurisdiction of Jingtai belongs.

Other punishments imposed on officials included major demerit ratings and disciplinary warnings.

Li Zuobi, the Jingtai county party chief, fell from his apartment building on June 9 and died, state media reported, adding that the police have ruled out homicide while Li’s death was still being investigated.

It was not clear whether or not Li’s death was linked to the ultramarathon.

The investigators said the tragedy was a public safety incident brought about by extreme weather including high winds, heavy rain and plunging temperatures, as well as unprofessional organization and operation.

China’s sport administration said last week it was suspending all high-risk sports events that lack a supervisory body, established rules and clear safety standards.

The activities halted include mountain and desert trail sports, wingsuit flying and ultra-long distance running.

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