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China: Criticism over the deaths of 21 athletes, authorities have launched an investigation

Criticism continues in China over the deaths of 21 athletes who took part in a long mountain marathon. Authorities have launched an investigation into the incident.

Marathon organizers are being blamed by some quarters for the deaths of the athletes.

The marathon was held on Saturday evening at the Yellow River Stone Forest in Gansu Province, China, with 172 athletes taking part.

According to AFP, the organizers of the marathon chose the Yellow River Stone Forest, a mountain range where the temperature drops below minus, for the 100-kilometer race.

Athletes wearing T-shirts and shorts took part in the marathon on Saturday evening, and a sudden cold snap killed 21 athletes, while survivors made shocking statements.

Local media quoted unconfirmed weather reports as saying that the temperature at the Yellow River Stone Forest had reached minus 24 degrees Celsius during the marathon.

Critics are questioning why the organizers ignored the weather warning despite the agency's warning.

Provincial authorities have formed a team to investigate the incident and try to find out the cause of the incident.

Rescue workers are rescuing athletes participating in the race.

Zhang Xiaoto, a marathon participant, said in a post on the local social media site Weibo that the wind was very strong on the mountain and he was falling repeatedly.

“My body parts started to clot and I felt like I was losing control of my body,” he said.

When he regained consciousness after fainting, Zhang said, he had a shepherd who sheltered him in a cave nearby and lit a fire near him so that he could take in the heat.

Another athlete, Leo Jung, who took part in the race, told state broadcaster CCTV that he saw several athletes coming down the mountain in T-shirts and shorts.

He said those returning from the mountain said many athletes were in poor condition and were pushing for an early end to the race.

Among the 21 athletes killed in the marathon were Chinese long-distance runners Liang Jing and Huang Ganjin.

Huang Ganjin has won the men's long-distance title at the 2019 National Paralympic Games, while Liang has won several ultramarathon titles in recent years.

Citizens are expressing outrage on Chinese social media. Some users have also accused the organizers of poor arrangements for the marathon.

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