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More than 200 Latvians airlifted from drifting ice floes

Good Friday saw a spike in the number of people engaging in recreational ice fishing, which is hugely popular in the tiny Baltic state.

File photo
File photo
Image: JONATHAN HAYWARD/The Canadian Press/Press Association Images

LATVIAN RESCUE WORKERS and soldiers airlifted more than 200 people, mostly ice fishermen, from two ice floes adrift in the Gulf of Riga today.

“The rescue operation concluded successfully at around 2pm with a total of 180 people rescued at Vakarbulli and 43 at Majori,” both towns in the Gulf of Riga, rescue services spokeswoman Viktorija Sembele told AFP.

Helicopters carried up to 20 people at a time off the ice floes, she said, adding that no injuries were reported.

Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics used his Facebook page to congratulate the rescue services and army for their “high level of professionalism” in the operation.

A public holiday on Good Friday saw a spike in the number of people engaging in recreational ice fishing, which is hugely popular in the tiny Baltic state.

The season has been especially busy this year because of an unusually cold spring.

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But on Thursday authorities began warning of a thaw amid high winds — a combination that creates ice floes and pushes them offshore.

Every year dozens of ice fishermen are rescued and a handful drown when they venture out onto ice too thin to support their weight.

- © AFP, 2013

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