Chinese official dies during probe of ultramarathon that left 21 dead

International

FILE – In this May 23, 2021, file photo provided by China’s Xinhua News Agency, rescuers walk into the accident site where over a dozen cross-country marathon runners died in Jingtai County of Baiyin City, northwest China’s Gansu Province. Police in western China say a top county official appears to have jumped to his death amid a probe into the deaths of 21 runners last month after freezing rain and strong winds hit the mountain on which they were competing in an ultramarathon. (Fan Peishen/Xinhua via AP, File)

BEIJING (NEXSTAR) — A Chinese county official appears to have jumped to his death during a probe into the deaths of 21 runners last month when freezing rain and gale-force winds hit the mountain on which they were competing in an ultramarathon.

State television CCTV says police were notified that Li Zuobi, the Communist Party secretary of Jingtai county in western China, had jumped from his apartment and died. State media reported that police ruled out homicide during their investigation, according to Reuters.

Police did not say if his death is believed to be linked to the ultramarathon.

On Friday, the provincial government handed down punishments to 27 officials over the deaths of the runners.

A report issued by the province found a lack of adequate planning for the event and a failure to respond effectively once weather conditions deteriorated drastically during the May 22 race.

China’s General Administration of Sport announced Wednesday that any high risk sport – including cross-country running, wing-mounted flying and ultramarathon races – would be suspended.

The administration ordered that all such activities have a clear oversight body, established rules and safety standards.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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