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Chinese official dies during investigation into marathon deaths


A Chinese county official appears to have jumped to his death during an investigation into the deaths of 21 runners last month after icy rain and gale-force winds hit the mountain on which they were running. Were competing in an ultramarathon.

BEIJING: A Chinese county official jumped to death during an investigation into the deaths of 21 runners last month when icy rain and gale-force winds hit the mountain on which they were competing in an ultramarathon, state Television reported on Friday.

CCTV said police were informed on Wednesday that a man jumped from his apartment and died. Upon investigation, he was found to be Li Zuobi, secretary of the Jingtai County Communist Party. He said the murder has been ruled out.

On Friday, the Gansu provincial government in western China sentenced Li to posthumous remission, punishing 27 officers but sacking his deputy Zhang Wenling, CCTV reports. Two other lower-ranking officers were taken into custody for further investigation, while the others were given administrative punishment, demotion, warnings and demerits.

A report released by the province found a lack of adequate planning for the event and a failure to respond effectively following severe weather conditions during the May 22 race.

The report stated that the organizing committee had failed to implement its protocol for managing the race and was guilty of being “overly formal and bureaucratic”.

Competitors ran 100 kilometers (62 mi), partly along an extremely narrow mountain path, at the Yellow River Stone Forest Tourist Site in Baiyin City of Gansu, 2,000–3,000 meters (6,500–9,800 m). ft) at the height.

Reports said that around $150,000 in compensation had been offered for each victim, but some family members had declined the amount, saying that many of those who died were earners and were at the top of their game. But were. Among the dead was well-known runner Liang Jing, who won a 100-kilometre (62 mi) race in the Gobi Desert.

While the race has been held several times before, the runners were apparently saved from cold weather and difficult conditions on unpaved paths made of a mixture of stones and sand.

Between freezing rain and gale-force winds, about 50 of the more than 170 contestants were sheltered in traditional cave dwellings built by shepherds. An overnight rescue operation rescued most of them, although many had to be hospitalised.

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