Tourists Rescued From Ice Floe

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A group of tourists on an adventure trip to the Canadian Arctic got a little more than they bargained for when a 30-mile chunk of ice they were camping on broke off of Baffin Island earlier this week.

Helicopters arrived from hundreds of miles away on Wednesday, rescuing the group. The tourists also got an air-drop of supplies from the Canadian military on Tuesday. The ice floe had floated about 7.5 miles offshore.

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“We were afraid that our camp was going to break up into ice,” Grace Liau, one of the tourists, told CBC News. “The weather was really bad, it was snowing, it was raining, strong winds and you know, big puddles forming all around us. So we were getting very, very nervous and we were afraid of the cracks.”

The tour company, Arctic Kingdom, says that everyone got back to land safely and in good spirits.

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While the tourists were stranded, Liau said that the guides used jerry cans to mark an airstrip. But planes weren’t able to land on the moving ice.

Ten hunters who also had been on the floe made it to land on Tuesday when the ice split and the section they were on drifted back to the island. Ice doesn’t usually break up so early in the season, hunters told CBC News, adding that the super moon may have caused high tides and strong currents.

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“This is the first time that a whole camp has actually drifted,” Arctic Kingdom spokesperson Graham Dickson told CBC News. The company has been offering tours in the area for about 10 years. “There’s no doubt there will be some discussion afterward about things that could be done in the future to prevent or better manage it.”

Photo: The Canadian Arctic. Credit: Corbis