Chinese Official’s Death Draws New Attention to Fatal Ultramarathon

Joseph B. Hash

HONG KONG—The demise of a nearby govt chief in the western China county that hosted component of a deadly ultramarathon race last thirty day period is increasing fresh new queries about the government’s investigation into the race, which has so considerably produced several responses about an occasion that produced global headlines.

Li Zuobi,

the Communist Bash secretary of Jingtai County in Gansu province, died following falling from his superior-increase apartment constructing in the town of Baiyin on Wednesday early morning, in accordance to individuals common with the matter. The 56-yr-outdated official’s demise came following he was visited by Communist Bash self-discipline officials before that day, the individuals explained.

A state-operate journal, Western China Advancement, in a social media submit Thursday cited nearby officials in reporting that Mr. Li’s demise had been a suicide.

Officers in Jingtai reached by The Wall Street Journal declined to deny or validate the news.

The sixty-mile superior-altitude ultramarathon, which passed as a result of a mountainous geopark in Jingtai, grew to become just one of the deadliest gatherings in the historical past of mountain sports activities on May possibly 22, when members were caught in a freak storm and pelted with freezing rain. A total of 21 runners died from exposure before rescuers could access them.

Mr. Li is the head official in Jingtai County, just one of the event’s official co-hosts. The race was operated by a nearby company, Gansu Shengjing Sporting activities Co.

Information of the race deaths came at a delicate time, with China’s ruling Communist Bash gearing up to rejoice the centenary of its founding in July—a priority for Chinese chief

Xi Jinping.

Underneath Mr. Xi’s path, the provincial govt of Gansu released an investigation into the management of the race.

Countrywide sports activities authorities last 7 days suspended all path working races in China, as well as other severe sports activities gatherings these kinds of as ultradistance working and wingsuit traveling, expressing better regulation was needed.

Freezing rain and gale-power winds strike a superior-altitude ultramarathon occasion in May possibly in northwest China. Just after an all-night look for and rescue operation, Chinese state media documented that 21 runners out of 172 members had died. Image: Stringer/Reuters

Buyers of China’s


-like Weibo social media service forwarded stories of Mr. Li’s demise together with a hashtag linked with the ultramarathon. Weibo details confirmed that the posts with the hashtag had been browse two billion situations due to the fact the disaster happened.

Numerous buyers questioned the silence encompassing the official investigation.

“What about the many others?” Wang Admirer, a e book creator, wrote in a submit on Weibo, referring to other officials in jurisdictions that co-hosted the race. “The investigation won’t end listed here, will it?”

Lots of of the race’s survivors and family members customers of the deceased runners have criticized the sluggish rescue response in the occasion and expressed hope the official investigation would lose light on who was dependable.

So considerably, the Gansu govt has not issued any public statements about the state of the probe. Authorities have still to reveal the identities of the 21 deceased runners.

The Gansu govt didn’t instantly answer to a ask for for comment.

An unofficial checklist of the deceased revealed by nearby media and verified by the Journal involves Liang Jing, just one of China’s most effective-recognized skilled marathoners. Lots of many others were novice runners common only to hometown working teams: a newlywed female from Chongqing, a minority firefighter from Xinjiang, and a sports activities trainer and his previous student from Gansu.

The 21-yr-outdated daughter of runner Lu Zhengyi, a enterprise manager from Guizhou, explained she could not get the investigators to convey to her exactly where and when the entire body was observed.

“They were really evasive. They explained they do not know,” she explained in an job interview Wednesday, before news of Mr. Li’s demise grew to become public.

Write to Wenxin Admirer at [email protected]

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