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122 fishermen rescued after getting stranded on Minnesota ice floe, officials say

Dozens of fishermen who were stranded on an ice floe that became detached on a lake in northern Minnesota were successfully rescued Friday evening, authorities said.

Just before 5 p.m. local time, 122 people were reported stranded on the ice floe in Upper Red Lake after it broke apart from the main ice, Beltrami County Sheriff Jason Riggs said in a news release provided to CBS News. He said there were about 30 feet of open water separating the ice floe from shore. 

Multiple agencies responded and emergency crews determined that all 122 people would require evacuation, the sheriff said, noting that "additional state resources were requested but canceled because of the efficiency and speed of local emergency responders."

No one was hurt during the ordeal, but four people fell into the water while attempting to canoe to shore prior to the arrival of emergency crews, the sheriff's office said. However, the four returned to the floe and warmed themselves in a fishing shelter while awaiting evacuation, which was completed by 7:30 p.m.

This comes after the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources on Thursday cautioned ice fishermen to be wary of thin ice on lakes statewide, partially caused by "unseasonably warm weather" this winter.

In its warning, it specifically noted that deteriorating ice conditions were to blame for at least three other ice-angler rescues in Upper Red Lake since Dec. 17 prior to Friday's incident.

"While temperatures are forecasted to drop, ice conditions will remain poor until there's a string of cold days to form new, clear ice," the department wrote of Upper Red Lake.

The agency's Thursday news release also included a statement from Riggs, who said that in "most years, the ice would be thick enough by now for vehicles and wheelhouses, and we'd be seeing a steady procession of them heading north. But this year isn't 'most years,' and the ice is changing constantly. It's absolutely vital that anyone who heads out checks the thickness frequently, pays close attention to the weather, and has a plan in case the worst happens and they wind up in the water."

According to Minnesota DNR, Red Lake is the largest inland lake in Minnesota, measuring about 451 square miles. It is divided into two parts, Upper Red Lake and Lower Red Lake. The lake is approximately one hour from the Canadian border.

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