Tags: tourists | stranded | ice | floe

Tourists Stranded on Ice Floe Escape to Land Via Another Ice Sheet

Wednesday, 26 Jun 2013 12:49 PM

By Clyde Hughes

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Twenty tourists set afloat on ice floe three times the size of New York's Central Park in the Canadian Arctic are now safe Wednesday after the ice sheet bumped into another floe that was adjacent to land.

CNN reported that the Canadian Coast Guard has accounted for all the tourists early Wednesday when luck intervened after attempts to rescue by helicopter earlier did not work.

"They were able to walk from one ice floe to the other to land," marine coordinator Christian Cafiti told CNN. "Everyone is safe and sound. We are having regular conversations with them through satellite phone."

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CNN noted that bad weather prevented helicopters from hoisting the tourists to safety earlier in the day. Coast guard officials shared with CNN that the tourists did not appear to have suffered much from the cold exposure.

A rescue plane dropped survival kits Tuesday after the expedition alerted authorities that they were drifting out to sea, reported CNN. Tourists were given satellite phones, inflatable rafts and food rations with the drop.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police told The Associated Press that the ice floe had broken away from Baffin Island between late Monday and early Tuesday. Mounted police spokeswoman Cpl. Yvonne Niego said told AP that those trapped included local guides as well as tourists from Canada and the United States.

Niego told the AP that 10 other hunters who were also trapped managed to cross over onto land after the chunk of ice split and their end floated close to shore Tuesday afternoon.

The tourists were camping on the ice when the frozen sheet at the time it broke away, CNN wrote. Officials started to become concerned when parts of the floe started to crumble two miles away from land, Steven Neta, a Canadian air force spokesman said to CNN.

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"Ice breaking off is a very common thing at this time of year," Neta said.

In March, CNN reported that more than 220 people had to be saved off the coast of Latvia when two ice floes broke off from the that coast into Gulf of Riga. In that incident, 181 people near the capital city of Riga were removed by boat while 42 others were rescued by helicopter off the coast of Jurmala.

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