Plane breaks through thin ice on MN ice fishing lake

WASHKISH (AP) — A light plane carrying ice anglers broke through thin ice as it tried to land on a large lake in northwestern Minnesota on Tuesday, the same lake where authorities had to rescue dozens of anglers who became trapped on an ice floe two days earlier.

Upper Red Lake is considered one of Minnesota’s premier ice fishing lakes, but the ice remains thin amid higher-than-normal temperatures.

In Tuesday morning’s incident, according to the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office, the pilot of the Cessna 172 identified what he believed was a safe landing area.

But he had difficulty slowing down because of the lack of snow.

The plane slid onto thin ice, and its nose broke through into open water. While the plane did not sink, both anglers got wet from the waist down. They were taken to a nearby resort, where they were given dry clothing.

On Sunday evening, emergency responders used an airboat to rescue 35 people after they became stranded on a piece of ice that broke away from shore because of strong winds. During the rescue operation, the gap between the ice floe and the main ice sheet grew to about 100 yards. But everyone was rescued within about four hours, and there were no injuries.

“The unseasonably warm weather combined with recent rain have resulted in inconsistent ice conditions,” the sheriff’s office said in a news release. “At least four inches of clear, new ice is recommended for walking. Ice can never be considered 100 percent safe. If you become stranded on the ice, call for help. We would rather have trained responders assist than someone falling in the water.”

It’s not the first time that shifting ice has stranded people on Upper Red Lake. Crews had to rescue more than 200 people in an incident last winter.


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