Skip to main content

20 tourists survive Canadian Arctic ice breakaway

By Ben Brumfield, CNN
July 2, 2013 -- Updated 1642 GMT (0042 HKT)
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
August 22, 2014 -- Updated 1231 GMT (2031 HKT)
James Dawes: Evil is the strongest word we have to prepare ourselves to kill others.
August 22, 2014 -- Updated 1614 GMT (0014 HKT)
As protests over the shooting of an unarmed black teen calmed down, the question remains: Where's the police officer who pulled the trigger?
August 22, 2014 -- Updated 0922 GMT (1722 HKT)
CNN's Tim Lister: Getting rid of ISIS will be tougher than taking on al Qaeda.
August 22, 2014 -- Updated 0042 GMT (0842 HKT)
American patients infected with Ebola are being released from the hospital. What now?
August 22, 2014 -- Updated 1048 GMT (1848 HKT)
One of the first observers at the MH17 crash site in Ukraine describes the harrowing scene.
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 1353 GMT (2153 HKT)
Five survivors of acid attacks capture India's attention with a "ground breaking" photo shoot.
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 1219 GMT (2019 HKT)
In an exclusive CNN interview, Lance Armstrong admits to having a "f**k you" attitude.
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 0036 GMT (0836 HKT)
The pain that Michael Brown's parents are going through is something Sybrina Fulton can relate to. She, too, lost a son in a controversial shooting.
August 22, 2014 -- Updated 1149 GMT (1949 HKT)
Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid gestures during the UEFA Super Cup match between Real Madrid and Sevilla at Cardiff City Stadium on August 12, 2014 Cardiff, Wales.
"We are like one grain of sand against a whole beach," says Eibar fan Unai Eraso.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
August 22, 2014 -- Updated 1022 GMT (1822 HKT)
From fierce protests in Ferguson, to an Ebola survivor discharged from a hospital in Atlanta, browse through the photos of the week.
ADVERTISEMENT