Skip to main content

20 tourists survive Canadian Arctic ice breakaway

By Ben Brumfield, CNN
updated 12:42 PM EDT, Tue July 2, 2013
Map: Admiralty Inlet in the northernmost territory of Nunavut, Canada.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: The 20 tourists have walked to safety after their ice floe drifted back toward land
  • NEW: Helicopters are standing by to take them to a base
  • The group was trapped on a chunk of ice in the Canadian Arctic
  • The tourists, including two Americans, received air-dropped survival kits that included rafts

(CNN) -- A group of 20 tourists, including two Americans, who were trapped at sea on a drifting ice floe in the Canadian Arctic are now safe after a stroke of luck.

Their sheet of ice bumped into another one early Wednesday, the Canadian coast guard said. The second ice floe was touching land.

"They were able to walk from one ice floe to the other to land," marine coordinator Christian Cafiti said. "Everyone is safe and sound."

A rescue plane dropped survival kits onto the 3½-square-mile frozen sheet Tuesday, after the expedition alerted authorities to their plight. The kits included satellite phones, inflatable rafts and food rations.

The plane kept an eye on them while they waited for helicopters to arrive.

When the copters arrived early Wednesday, bad weather prevented them from hoisting the group on board. They are standing by to airlift them to an Arctic station.

"We are having regular conversations with them through satellite phone," Cafiti said.

The tourists do not appear to be in danger of exposure. They are dressed warmly and have been able to remain dry.

Camping surprise

The tourists were camping on the ice when the frozen sheet -- three times the size of New York City's Central Park -- broke free early Tuesday, carried off by the tide.

"Ice breaking off is a very common thing at this time of year," Canadian air force spokesman Steven Neta said.

The floe drifted two miles away from land and appeared to start to crumble, Neta said. Had it fallen apart, the three rubber rafts were more than large enough to hold the whole group.

The cold also was not too harsh. Even that far north, daytime highs in June often rise well above freezing.

More than 220 rescued from ice floes off Latvian coast

CNN's Kevin Conlon contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 6:49 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
British PM David Cameron has had the narrowest of political escapes.
updated 9:06 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
British journalist John Cantlie hadn't been seen in nearly two years. Now, he's the latest hostage to be paraded out by ISIS.
The burial leader. The hospital gatekeeper. The disease detective. All telling powerful, stories from West Africa.
updated 7:03 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Alibaba's IPO is unlike anything investors have ever seen and could threaten other online retailers. Maggie Lake reports.
updated 8:26 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Indian PM Narendra Modi has said al Qaeda will fail if it seeks to spread its terror network into his country.
updated 8:01 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Put yourself in the shoes (and sixth-century black robes) of ISIS' Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the mysterious boss of the terror group.
updated 7:40 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
 Tennis Player Li Na attends the WTA Pre-Wimbledon Party as guests enjoy Ciroc Vodka presented by Dubai Duty Free at Kensington Roof Gardens on June 19, 2014 in London,
Asia's first grand slam singles champion Li Na has called time on her 15-year tennis career.
Jenson Button has some of quickest reactions ever shown at an advanced sports lab.
updated 7:24 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Creative companies with quirky ideas find new lending models advantageous.
updated 10:09 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Even death couldn't part two skeletons excavated from a lost chapel in an English county, found with their fingers entwined.
updated 6:07 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 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
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT