LANZHOU, China, June 11 (Xinhua) -- 27 people, including several municipal government officials, face disciplinary punishment or criminal charges after being held responsible for a deadly ultramarathon race last month in which 21 runners were killed, local authorities said here on Friday.
A 100-kilometer cross-country mountain race in China's northwestern province of Gansu on May 22 turned deadly as 21 runners died from hypothermia after freezing rain, high winds and hails hit a high-altitude section of the race. Victims included elite Chinese long-distance runners Liang Jing and Huang Guanjun.
"The Baiyin ultramarathon was a public safety accident due to sudden changes in local weather. Non-standard and unprofessional event operations led to the accident," read the investigation report announced at a press conference on Friday afternoon.
Organizers were blamed for having apparently ignored extreme weather warnings from the city's weather forecast center in the lead up to the race, while protective gear such as warm jackets was only recommended, and not mandatory, in a list provided by the organizers.
"The emergency plan and safety guarantee measures for the event were not formulated in accordance with the prescribed standards, and the emergency rescue force was seriously underprepared," added the report.
Baiyin CPC secretary Su Jun and Baiyin mayor Zhang Xuchen are among those who have been given disciplinary punishments. Zhang Wenling was sacked as the magistrate of Jingtai County, whose CPC secretary Li Zuobi died in an apparent suicide after the event.
Zhang Xiaoyan, the owner of the company that organized the ultramarathon race, has been detained and faces criminal charges.
More than 60 marathon and cross-country running races have been canceled or postponed across China amid rising safety concerns following the Baiyin ultramarathon race. Enditem