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Over 100 Minnesota Ice Fishers Rescued in Mass Evacuation from Breakaway Floe

2 months ago
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A group of ice fishers were rescued Friday evening after the ice floe they were on detached from the shoreline on Upper Red Lake in northern Minnesota, stranding them about 30 feet from land, authorities said.

The Beltrami County Sheriff's Office coordinated the evacuations of 122 people throughout two and a half hours, with no injuries reported.

The incident highlights the hazards of ice fishing this season amid warmer-than-usual winter weather. State officials have warned that ice on lakes may be dangerously thin in some areas.

The rescue also comes a day after one person died when a commercial vehicle carrying passengers to an ice fishing spot broke through thin ice on another Minnesota lake.

The stranding occurred shortly before 5 p.m. Friday on Upper Red Lake, located about 200 miles northwest of Minneapolis in Beltrami County.

According to the sheriff's office, an emergency call said a large piece of ice with fishermen on it had broken off from the shoreline, leaving over 30 feet of open water between the floe and the land.

There were initially no reports of anyone falling into the frigid water when the floe first detached. But authorities said some bystanders had attempted to conduct evacuations by canoe before first responders arrived.

During that informal rescue operation, four people were in the water when trying to reach the stranded fishermen.

The sheriff's office said the four people were subsequently brought back onto the free-floating ice to warm up inside a portable ice fishing shelter. Emergency officials then began coordinating the rescue of the remaining stranded fishermen over the next few hours.

In total, 122 people on the drifting floe required rescue. According to the sheriff's office statement, the full evacuation took around two and a half hours to complete. No injuries were reported as a result of the incident.


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