Soldiers: Coast Guard helicopter saves 7 frozen people in remote Alaskan camp
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) – A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter rescued seven people who had been frozen since last week in a cabin on Thursday evening about 20 miles east of the community of Emmonak on the Yukon River in western Alaska, the state of Alaska. The soldiers signaled.
The group was “adequately supplied with food, water, shelter and necessary supplies” before being rescued Thursday evening, soldiers said.
US Army helicopters were to “extract” the individuals on Friday morning, soldiers said. But a Coast Guard helicopter was able to make the trip from Nome after overcoming mechanical issues and getting a weather window, said Petty Officer 1st Class Ali Blackburn, a spokesman for the Coast Guard.
“Extracting the group safely as quickly as possible was a top priority for all agencies involved in this operation,” said Austin McDaniel, a spokesperson for the soldiers.
Blackburn said no injuries were reported at the time of the rescue. Blackburn said the individuals were taken to Nome.
KYUK Public Media reported that the group was made up of hunters from Pilot Station who got stranded outside of Emmonak on the way back. Hunters from lower Yukon River villages traditionally travel to the coast in the fall to hunt seals, with no problem. But as they returned, ice began to form on the water.
Four of the hunters are volunteers from the pilot station’s search and rescue team and contacted Emmonak Search and Rescue with an emergency communications device. According to Emmonak Search and Rescue, the hunters have indicated their location and have been directed to the nearest fishing camp, KYUK reported.
McDaniel had said the group stopped at the fishing camp hut for the night of October 28. “While they were there during the night, the river froze. So the ice on the river is too thick to run a boat, and it’s not thick enough to run a snowmobile, and there is no land road to get to that place ”, he said on Tuesday.
The soldiers said they were informed that individuals were “stranded” at the camp around 5:15 pm last Friday and that a delivery of necessary food and medicine was made on Sunday.
Authorities used a helicopter to retrieve the individuals, McDaniel said. Weather conditions between the area and some central communities, however, had previously hampered efforts to reach the site, he said earlier this week.
Blackburn said the Coast Guard also dropped supplies, including a radio, to the group before the rescue.
Paul Fancyboy, head of the pilot station’s search and rescue group, told KYUK he was concerned about the time it took for people to be rescued, calling it unacceptable.
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