Skip to main content

More than 220 rescued from ice floes off Latvian coast

From Alvis Eglitis, for CNN
March 29, 2013 -- Updated 2121 GMT (0521 HKT)
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
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1049 GMT (1849 HKT)
British PM David Cameron has had the narrowest of political escapes.
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 0106 GMT (0906 HKT)
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.
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 2303 GMT (0703 HKT)
Alibaba's IPO is unlike anything investors have ever seen and could threaten other online retailers. Maggie Lake reports.
September 20, 2014 -- Updated 0358 GMT (1158 HKT)
Indian PM Narendra Modi has said al Qaeda will fail if it seeks to spread its terror network into his country.
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 1201 GMT (2001 HKT)
Put yourself in the shoes (and sixth-century black robes) of ISIS' Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the mysterious boss of the terror group.
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1939 GMT (0339 HKT)
 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.
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1124 GMT (1924 HKT)
Creative companies with quirky ideas find new lending models advantageous.
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 1409 GMT (2209 HKT)
Even death couldn't part two skeletons excavated from a lost chapel in an English county, found with their fingers entwined.
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1007 GMT (1807 HKT)
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