Twenty-one people participating in a Han marathon have died in a mountainous area of ​​northwest China after hail, freezing rain and high winds hit the route of the competition, state media said on Sunday.

The participants suffered physical discomfort and the sudden drop in temperature, said a relief unit quoted by the Xinhua News Agency.

Some competitors were missing amid the extreme weather around 1:00 p.m. Saturday, when the 100-kilometer (60-mile) race was called off at the Yellow River Rock Forest, a tourist site in Baiyin city, in Gansu province.

The low temperatures as well as the complexity of the terrain and the topography of the area made the search difficult.

A total of 172 people participated in the race and 151 have been confirmed to be safe. Some were treated for minor injuries and were stable, said Xinhua, the official Chinese agency.

At a press conference on Sunday, Baiyin Mayor Zhang Xuchen offered his apologies as organizer of the test.

“We express our deep condolences and solidarity with the families of the victims and the injured,” said the mayor.

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