More than 220 Latvians rescued after drifting to sea on ice floes


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The Independent Online

Helicopters and Navy ships rescued 220 Latvians who drifted to sea today, trapped on huge floating slabs of ice.

The floes broke loose in the Gulf of Riga, in the country's north-west. One of them washed as far as 4 kilometers from shore. It was unreachable by boat, so the operation continued by helicopter.

State Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson Victoria Sembele said 180 people were rescued in the town of Vakarbulli near the capital Riga and a further 41 people were rescued in the resort town of Jurmala.

The boats and aircraft were hampered by bad weather and high waves.

Sembele told TVNET website the situation was critical, as winds were very strong and the boats involved in the operation suitable for inland waters, not the sea.