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 1:56 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, shot while standing guard at Ottawa's National War Memorial, was known for his easygoing manner and smile.
updated 4:06 PM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Non-stop chatter about actress' appearance is nasty, cruel, hurtful, invasive and sexist.
updated 4:58 PM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Air New Zealand's new 'Hobbit' safety video stars Peter Jackson, Elijah Wood, elves and orcs.
updated 10:14 AM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
A 15-year-old pregnant girl is rescued from slavery, only to be charged with having sex outside of marriage, shocked rights activists say -- a charge potentially punishable by death.
updated 11:33 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
After sushi and ramen, beef is on the list of must-eats for many visitors to Japan.
updated 12:07 PM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Airports judged on comfort, conveniences, cleanliness and customer service.
updated 1:48 PM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Scientists use CT scans to recreate a life-size image of the ancient king.
updated 5:59 AM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Despite billions spent on eradicating poppy production, Afghan farmers are growing bumper crops, a U.S. government report says.
updated 9:19 AM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
With so many new attractions on the way, the next few years are going to be a roller coaster ride.
updated 12:29 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
Thomas Malthus famously predicted that rising populations would create a food crunch: Could this be true?
updated 6:33 AM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
From "Sick Man of Europe" to the world's fourth largest economy.
updated 7:53 AM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT