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Duo stranded after pickup breaks through lake ice

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Firefighters used a hovercraft to rescue two people stranded on their pickup after falling through ice on a lake in northern Minnesota.

Cass County Sheriff's Office says officers were called to Leech Lake, southeast of Bemidji, at around 7.49 a.m. Friday, and arrived to find the pickup stuck partially in slush and ice near an ice heave on the water.

The two people rescued were found in the bed of the truck, unable to leave their vehicle safely because of thin ice, the Sheriff's Office said on its Facebook page.

It issued a warning to anybody venturing out to check ice depth, particularly if they are bringing a vehicle onto it, saying: "Even though cold temperatures have helped ice conditions there are still many vulnerable areas around ice heaves, rivers and springs.

"All ice should never be considered 100 percent safe."

Ice conditions have improved following the recent cold snap, though temperatures have risen in recent days, with highs of nearly 40 predicted for this weekend.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources guidelines state that ice needs to be between 8 and 12 inches to take a small pickup, and 12 and 15 inches thick to be suitable for a medium-sized truck.

The Cass County Sheriff says those venturing out onto the ice should either check for known thin ice areas with local resorts or bait shops, or test the thickness themselves with an ice chisel or auger.

It has also advised those driving on ice to leave their windows down and have a simple escape plan.

They also advise staying away from alcohol, saying: "Even 'just a couple of beers' are enough to cause a careless error in judgment that could cost you your life."

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