BEIJING, China: Twenty-seven Chinese officials are being investigated following the deaths of 21 runners last month during an ultramarathon in Gansu Province.
The officials, including members of the Chinese Communist Party, face punishment and possible criminal charges, state-owned Xinhua news agency reported Friday.
The Party's secretary in the city of Baiyin and Baiyin Mayor Zhang Xuchen face punishment, and Zhang Wenling, the magistrate of Jingtai County, has been dismissed. Also, a Zhang staff member may have died by suicide after the ultramarathon tragedy, the report said.
Zhang Xuchen apologized last month for the calamity.
"As the organizer of the event, we are full of guilt and remorse. We express deep condolences and sympathy to the families of the victims and the injured," the Chinese mayor said.
The 60-mile race in China's Yellow River Stone Forest took place amid high winds and freezing rain, according to the BBC.
Local authorities deployed 1,200 rescuers after some of the S172 runners went missing.
Many runners suffered from hypothermia, as 27 died.
"The Baiyin ultramarathon was a public safety accident due to sudden changes in local weather," investigators said.
"The emergency plan and safety guarantee measures for the event were not formulated in accordance with the prescribed standards, and the emergency rescue force was seriously underprepared."