Friday, September 9, 2022

Hunters rescued after week stranded at Alaska fish camp

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Seven people were rescued late Thursday after being stranded at a remote Alaska fish camp for a week, state troopers said Friday.

Ice on the Yukon River stranded the group at the camp about 20 miles east of Emmonak, a small city of around 800 in the southwestern part of the state, Alaska State Troopers said.

They were reported stuck on Oct. 29, but weather and later mechanical issues with a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter prevented their rescue, state troopers said.

Two U.S. Army helicopters were on the way for a rescue planned for Friday, but a Coast Guard helicopter was able to take off from Nome on Thursday evening, troopers said.

The MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew hoisted the six adults and one teenager to safety from the remote site and took them to Nome, about 130 miles away, officials said.

There were no injuries reported and troopers said earlier Thursday that the group was “adequately supplied with food, water, shelter, and necessary supplies.”

The area outside of Emmonak does not have roads. At one point a C-130, a large cargo and search and rescue aircraft, was able to drop supplies to the group by parachute.

The group set out on Oct. 25 to hunt and bring back food for Pilot Station and another village, one of the rescued hunters told NBC affiliate KTUU of Anchorage.

The hunter, Rex Nick, told the station the wait for rescue was frustrating. The river iced over on Oct. 28, he said.

“It’s like, the plane will be there, the chopper will be there, and it never showed up,” he said.

The wife of one the stranded hunters told KTUU that her husband said they were trying to make it home but it was slow going because there was a lot of ice on the river, and then they called for help.

The group had an InReach device, which is a satellite communicator, and were able to stay in contact with authorities, state troopers said.

A Coast Guard spokesperson could not immediately be reached Friday night.

Petty Officer 1st Class Ali Blackburn told The Associated Press that a break in the weather allowed its helicopter to fly Thursday and rescue the group. KTUU reported that freezing fog kept crews grounded for several days.

Nome and Emmonak are in the western part of Alaska, on or near the coast of the Bering Sea.

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