200 anglers rescued from broken ice chunk in Minnesota

Photo of a rescue vehicle on the ice next to a narrow part of open water with a portable bridge placed atop it so people can cross.

Around 200 people have been rescued after they were stranded on a large chunk of ice that broke away in a Minnesota lake.

The local sheriff’s office said the people adrift on Upper Red Lake in northern Minnesota were fishing when the ice broke.

Anglers were surrounded by up to 90ft (27 metres) of open water, the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office said.

They added that all those who were stranded have been safely rescued.

The incident occurred at a popular ice fishing destination in Minnesota, said Adam Studniski, one of the owners of JR’s Corner, an ice fishing resort in the area.

“The ice with the south-west wind just shifted, and it broke away in some spots,” he said.

The Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office said in a press release that they received 911 calls from those on the iceberg at around 11:34 local time.

Mr Studniski said his team, with the help of emergency responders, were able to safely evacuate anglers using an ice bridge over a narrow part of the open water.

Everyone was safely rescued by 14:37, the sheriff’s office said.

Mr Studniski said incidents like this occur every once in a while at the lake during this time of year, and that anglers were calm as they were evacuated.

“Part of our job is monitoring and looking at cracks and watching the [ice] and making sure we have bridges ready when needed,” Mr Studniski said.

The sheriff’s office warned in its press release that “early season ice is very unpredictable”.

“Extreme caution should be used when heading on the ice and to check the thickness frequently to ensure an adequate amount of ice,” they said.

Ice fishing season in Minnesota begins as soon as it is cold enough for the ice on the lake to harden and stay put, Mr Studniski said.

Guidelines reposted by the sheriff’s office on Facebook state that ice needs to be a minimum of 4in thick to be safe enough for anglers.

Mr Studniski said his resort had opened for the season last week, but it would be closed for the remainder of Monday and on Tuesday so that staff can monitor the ice.

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