Man in lucky escape in Haapsalu sea ice plunge, vehicle lost

Infirm sea ice (photo is illustrative).
Infirm sea ice (photo is illustrative). Source: Juhan Hepner/ERR

The Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) has issued a warning over traveling on sea ice in a vehicle – currently prohibited in any case – after a man had a near escape Friday evening doing just that, when his car plunged through the ice near the western town of Haapsalu.

The man was able to extricate himself from the car, and was not seriously hurt.

Preliminary information states that a 40-year-old man had attempted to drive between the Noarootsi peninsula to the north, and Haapsalu to the south.

While a circuitous route on land would be require a thirty-minute-plus drive around Haapsalu bay, when the ice road between the two points is open, this is radically slashed to a distance of a kilometer or two.

However, conditions in western Estonia so far this winter have not proved suitable to open the ice road yet, with the individual demonstrating exactly why that is the case as the car plunged through the weak ice, around 100 meters from the shore, witnesses said, at around 7.20 p.m. Friday.

The man was able to escape his vehicle, which now lies on the sea bed several meters down.

First responders on the scene on foot themselves repeatedly sank through ice holes also, while the PPA took the individual to the local hospital.

The PPA reiterated its warning on avoiding sea ice in all locations – none of Estonia's ice roads are as yet open.

While the lake ice on Peipsi järv in the east of Estonia is now open, temperatures in the west of Estonia are consistently considerably milder than those in the east, while sea ice is subject to currents to a greater extent than that on freshwater bodies.

In any case, two men perished shortly before Christmas after an ATV-type vehicle they were traversing Peipsi järv ice on also came to grief.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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