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Municipality restricts Jägala waterfall visitor access to ensure safety

Jägala waterfall in winter.
Jägala waterfall in winter. Source: ERR/Priit Luts

Every winter, the frozen Jägala waterfall in Harju County attracts huge numbers of visitors. This year, however, the crowds have become so large that the municipality has been forced to restrict access in order to ensure safety.

According to Marko Raudlam, who has worked in Jõelähtme Municipality for almost 15 years, this is the first time he can remember access to the waterfall having to be restricted.

"People are sledging down the hill, driving on the ice and walking behind the frozen waterfall, underneath, under this huge mass of ice. If some of it comes loose, it can just kill you," Raudlam said.

"They have to be able to touch it, otherwise it seems like just a beautiful view and nothing else," he added.

Initially, the municipality and the Kehra rescue services put up warning signs, but Raudlam said they were not adhered to. Once people began climbing up the frozen waterfall last Sunday, the municipality decided enough was enough and earlier this week was left with no choice but to cordon off the dangerous area with tape. There is nothing more the municipality can do.

While the warning tape in place ought to indicate that it is dangerous to proceed, fresh footprints in the area show that some people have not been deterred.

On Friday, a few curious onlookers had come to see the waterfall, though most remained well behind the danger line.

Robert, who came from the city to see the falls, thought the restrictions were reasonable.

"After all, the water is running and the ice caves could all fall down. That's the point. /.../ You can see here that everything is going to fall down right away. In the old days, people used to go right through the back. /.../ You could go through the ice when it was frozen, but now it's running," Robert said.

Fortunately, for those who still want to know what is going on behind the ice wall, there is no need to your life. Thanks to drones, nowadays, everything can be seen.

Going under the waterfall is also dangerous in summer, as the top layer of limestone is loose and could break off at any moment.

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Editor: Michael Cole

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