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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ice Floe Carries Off Ilmen Fishermen

Several dozen ice fishermen drifted free from shore on an ice floe on Ilmen Lake in the Novgorod region Thursday morning, Emergency Situations Ministry officials said.

Ministry spokesman Oleg Seminog said in a telephone interview from St. Petersburg that by afternoon the ministry's crews had rescued 42 fishermen from the floe, which broke free at around 10 a.m. Thursday. He said 10 more people were believed to be stranded on the floe but they would be rescued by Friday morning.

Although ice fishing is illegal and potentially dangerous, its popularity has increased dramatically in northwest Russia over the past several years.

In 1998, the Emergency Situations Ministry rescued a total of 668 ice fishermen from ice floes in the region. But this year from Feb. 26 to Feb. 28 alone, ministry crews saved 1,024 fishermen who had drifted from shore on ice floes in the Gulf of Finland and on Lake Ladoga.

No fines are established for ice fishing, Seminog said. "Fines or no fines, these dummies will keep going out on the ice every sunny day," he added.