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ICE

Dutch skaters saved from Swedish ice floe

Six skaters from the Netherlands were saved from an ice floe on Lake Vättern in central Sweden on Friday after having been adrift for several hours.

Dutch skaters saved from Swedish ice floe

The tour skaters were out on the frozen lake when a massive chunk of ice broke off, leaving them stranded.

The group were winched to safety by a helicopter, with a hovercraft from the Swedish Sea Rescue Society (Sjöräddningssällskapet) also in attendance. No injuries were reported, nor had anyone fallen into the icy waters.

The skaters were then deposited on the island of Visingsö in the middle of the lake, which is Sweden’s second largest body of water.

The Sea Rescue Society then assisted them to the lakeside town of Gränna.

The deep waters of Lake Vättern are notorious for channels opening up in the ice as a result of windy weather and The Local reported earlier this week that a total of ten people had fallen through the ice.

A rapid response from the Sea Rescue Society once again averted serious injuries or death, with victims reporting only cases of hypothermia.

Tour skating is a popular winter pastime for many Swedes. Whereas in the Netherlands skaters followed marked routes on frozen canals and lakes, in Sweden they usually choose their own tours, relying on local advice.

According to Swedish Life Saving Society (Svenska Livräddningssällskapet – SLS) statistics around 10 percent of ice related drownings per annum can be attributed to tour skating.

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SPRING

Be wary of perilous Easter ice, Sweden warned

The beginning of spring means an increased risk of falling through surface ice on lakes and watercourses that are thawing.

Be wary of perilous Easter ice, Sweden warned
File photo: Tobias Röstlund / TT

With April a particularly dangerous month, Easter holidaymakers have been advised to take extra care.

“There are a lot of snowmobiles out there during Easter. It is the time of year when snowmobiles are used the most, especially in the mountains. Easter falls very late this year and that means the ice is much weaker,” said Per-Olov Wikberg, coordinator with Nationella snöskoterrådet (National Snowmobile Council).

According to Wikberg, the majority of snowmobile accidents happen around Easter. Of 70 deaths due to accidents involving the vehicle type in the last ten years, almost half were the result of drowning. Several other serious ice-related accidents have also occurred.

“The thing that is special about snowmobiles is that they are heavy and can travel very fast. You can quickly find yourself on bad ice without hearing or seeing the warning signs,” he said.

A survey carried out by the snowmobile council found that three out of ten people had experienced an accident caused by ice breaking or nearly breaking.

Only four out of ten said they had consulted somebody with local knowledge before heading out onto the ice.

Authorities therefore advise the public to always prioritise safety when deciding whether to go out on the vehicles or on the ice in general, particularly in unfamiliar areas.

“This year it’s nasty. The ice can crack very fast and this does not depend so much on the temperature, but on the fact the sun is high in the sky. That warms the inside of the ice,” said project manager Jan Insulander of ice safety advisory board Issäkerhetsrådet.

“Keep in mind that ice that was hard and cold in the morning can become slush that you can fall through later in the day,” he added.

The National Snowmobile Council believes that the public needs better – potentially life-saving – knowledge about ice and lakes.

“Everyone should have respect for the ice, because the ice can quickly become bad in the spring because of heat and sunshine,” Wikberg said.

READ ALSO: Five top tips for staying safe on the ice in Sweden

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