Twenty stuck on Latvian ice floe, 200 rescued: official

Around 200 people, mostly ice fishermen, were rescued from two drifting ice floes in the Gulf of Riga on Friday, with another 20 still stranded, national rescue services said, dismissing earlier reports that 500 people were at risk.

"In all there were around 180 people trapped on the ice at Vakarbulli and 40 at Majori" both towns in the Gulf of Riga, Viktorija Sembele, a State Fire and Rescue Service spokeswoman told AFP, adding that all but 20 people had been rescued and no serious injuries were reported.

A public holiday on Good Friday saw a spike in the number of people engaging in recreational ice fishing, which is hugely popular in the tiny Baltic state.

The season has been especially busy this year because of an unusually cold spring.

But on Thursday authorities began warning of a thaw amid high winds -- a combination that creates ice floes and pushes them offshore.

Every year dozens of ice fishermen are rescued and a handful drown when they venture out onto ice too thin to support their weight.