Airlifted from a frozen wasteland: Almost 700 fishermen stranded after ice floe snaps and starts drifting out to sea

Russia's emergency services rescued 675 fishermen today from a huge sheet of ice drifting out to sea.

About half were picked up by helicopters and the others by boat in a remote part of the country's far east.

None of the rescued ice fishermen required medical treatment, the emergency services on Sakhalin Island said.

The fishermen ended up trapped on ice that broke away and drifted 500m off Sakhalin Island in Russia's far east region

The fishermen ended up trapped on ice that broke away and drifted 500m off Sakhalin Island in Russia's far east region

A chopper arrives as part of teh operation to airlift the Russian fisherman to safety

A chopper arrives as part of teh operation to airlift the Russian fisherman to safety

The block of ice broke off from Sakhalin Island near the village of Vzmorye with 675 fishermen on it and floated into the open sea


The block of ice broke off from Sakhalin Island near the village of Vzmorye with 675 fishermen on it and floated into the open sea

The emergency services said it received a report at midday today that an ice floe was drifting into the Sea of Okhotsk with hundreds of fishermen on it.

More than six hours later, all had been rescued.

Fishing through bore-holes on ice-bound waters is a popular winter pastime in Russia.

Ice fishermen routinely get stranded on ice floes in Russia, especially in the spring as the temperatures rise.

A Russian helicopter during rescue operations on an ice float near Sakhalin island, Russia

A Russian helicopter during rescue operations on an ice float near Sakhalin island, Russia

Stranded: The fishermen were stuck for around six hours in the freezing conditions before the emergency services arrived

Stranded: The fishermen were stuck for around six hours in the freezing conditions before the emergency services arrived

It was a major rescue operation that involved a group of 40 emergency workers, 10 boats and two helicopters

It was a major rescue operation that involved a group of 40 emergency workers, 10 boats and two helicopters

Ice fishermen routinely get stranded on ice floes in Russia, especially in the spring as the temperatures rise

Ice fishermen routinely get stranded on ice floes in Russia, especially in the spring as the temperatures rise

Today's operation was unusual only in the high number that had to be rescued.

Taymuraz Kasayev, of the emergencies ministry, said the area's residents had been told to stay away from the ice.

We warned people through the media that going out on to the ice on this stretch of the coastline is extremely dangerous and is not allowed,' he told the NTV television channel.

The emergency services said it received a report at midday that an ice floe was drifting into the Sea of Okhotsk with hundreds of fishermen on it

The emergency services said it received a report at midday that an ice floe was drifting into the Sea of Okhotsk with hundreds of fishermen on it

One of the rescued fishermen, Vladimir Vasilenko, said they should have known better than to go out on such a day.

'Of course the wind was blowing from the shore. We should have thought that something could happen, but people were going and we went as well,' he said in a televised interview.

'We also heard on the radio that it was the last chance for fishermen, and so we went fishing.'


 

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