Skip to main content

More than 220 rescued from ice floes off Latvian coast

From Alvis Eglitis, for CNN
updated 5:21 PM EDT, Fri March 29, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: A man who first refused help is taken safely back to shore, a report says
  • Two ice floes break off from the Latvian coast and are blown into the Gulf of Riga
  • Helicopters and boats carry more than 220 people to safety, emergency officials say
  • A crack appeared in ice that had been attached to the shore, a journalist at the scene says

(CNN) -- More than 220 people have been rescued after two ice floes broke off from the Latvian coast and were blown into the Gulf of Riga, Latvian emergency services said Friday.

All 181 people on the larger floe near the capital city of Riga were removed by boat, and 42 people were rescued by helicopter from the smaller floe off the coast of Jurmala, a nearby seaside resort town.

One person remained for some time on the floe off Jurmala because he refused to be rescued by helicopter, emergency officials said.

That man told authorities he was waiting for a friend to pick him up in a plastic boat, according to the Baltic News Service. Eventually, rescuers helped both the stranded man and his friend on the boat return safely to shore.

The same report said that, once the rescue operation ended around 4:30 p.m. (10:30 a.m. ET), one person was treated for possible frostbite.

The fire service earlier said that rough seas were complicating the rescue efforts by the Fire and Rescue Service, National Border Guard, Coast Guard and military officials.

Oil company manager Kaspars Skrabans said he was down at the beach by Jurmala with his family when he noticed that a crack had appeared in the ice extending from the shore out into the gulf.

He realized that nearly 50 people were on the ice that had become separated from the shore and being blown out to sea by the prevailing wind.

Some people were likely there to enjoy a walk on a sunny day, he told CNN, while others were ice fishers.

Temperatures were above freezing Friday in Riga, CNN forecaster Mari Ramos said. Ice is more likely to break off from shore as temperatures rise in spring.

CNN's Lonzo Cook and journalist Karlis Rokis contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:39 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Tethered to an IV drip, 71-year-old Shin Young Ja lies under a thin fleece blanket, nursing a broken back and wracked with survivor's guilt.
updated 7:23 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Family members of the missing passengers are pinning slim hopes on floundering air pockets.
updated 12:14 PM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
An Iranian mother slaps and then forgives her 17-year old son's murderer in dramatic scenes at the gallows.
updated 7:35 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
An "extraordinary" video shows what looks like the largest and most dangerous gathering of al Qaeda in years.
updated 8:30 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Explore each side's case, reconstructed from Pistorius' court affidavit and the prosecution's case during last year's bail hearing.
updated 8:37 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Mentions of the 1989 Tiananmen Square student protests or political reform are still censored in China.
updated 5:34 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
The Hadza are one of the last communities of hunter-gatherers in the world -- but losing their land.
updated 9:22 PM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
In choosing to change a traditional practice, Francis is being as radical as Jesus was in his own time.
updated 7:13 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Too weak. Can't handle pressure. Unattractive to sponsors. Susie Wolff has heard it all.
updated 10:49 PM EDT, Sat April 19, 2014
Browse through images you don't always see on news reports from CNN teams around the world.
updated 8:30 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
It's like finding a needle in a universe-wide haystack. Researchers have located a planet roughly the size of Earth that could be habitable.
updated 5:40 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Dubai, long champion of all things biggest, longest and most expensive, will soon have some competition from a neighboring country.
ADVERTISEMENT