More than 40 ice fishermen rescued after the ice breakup in Lake Erie

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March 9, 2019, 23:18 GMT

By Phil Helsel

The Coast Guard and other agencies rescued on Saturday 46 fishermen who were on an ice floe that detached near Catawba Island, on the shore of Ohio, at the edge of Lake Erie, announced the Coast Guard.

There were more people on the pack ice, but about 100 of them were able to "rescue" by swimming or walking on ice bridges that had been connected to the pack ice, according to the law enforcement agency. and maritime rescue.

The Coast Guard was informed of the situation around 8 am Saturday morning and everyone was rescued around 11 am, the Coast Guard said. "We are pleased to announce that everyone is safe," said Marblehead Coast Guard Station in a statement.

An ice fisherman goes to shore from a Coast Guard hydrofoil after being rescued from Lake Erie this morning after ice melting has left them stranded. A large-scale coordinated rescue effort between the federal, state and local governments is underway. pic.twitter.com/c60zz0afGB

– Ohio_EMA (@Ohio_EMA) March 9, 2019

"It happened very quickly," Tony Adkins, 42, of Akron, says the Toledo Blade newspaper. He spent about 20 minutes on the ice before cracks appeared in the ice. "We did not know that there was open water beyond us," he said.

"Thank God, the coastguards were there for us," Adkins told the newspaper. "You live and you learn, I suppose."

The coastguard said boats and helicopters had been sent for what they called a mass rescue. In the midst of rising temperatures, "the ice has fractured into several ices" and the helicopter and boat crews were able to rescue the fishermen. Local fires, EMS and other agencies, as well as the Ohio Department of Natural Resources have also helped.

A helicopter from the Coast Guard Air Base in Detroit is involved in the mass rescue of 46 people from an ice floe near the island of Catawba on March 9, 2019.U.S. Coast Guard District 9

In 2009, there was another mass rescue of ice fishermen stranded on a large pack ice in Lake Erie. The Associated Press reported at the time.

In this case, 134 fishermen were stranded and did not know the cracks in the ice and the warnings of strong winds. Some even built an improvised bridge on the ice to get to a favorite fishing spot, reported the AP. One person deceased That day, his snowmobile broke through the ice about 200 meters from shore.

The Coast Guard said on Saturday that as temperatures began to rise, it "strongly encourages people not to go out on the ice".

"The ice may seem safe but it is difficult to visually determine its thickness and the increase in warm weather will continue to melt and weaken the ice," said the Coast Guard. said in a statement.

Catawba Island is located north of Sandusky.