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Rescue worker dies in ice road accident off Oulu coast

The death of a rescue worker colleague is "the worst thing that can happen," the local department's board chair said.

Hailuodon jäätiellä tapahtui tiistaina pelastustyöntekijän menehtymiseen johtanut onnettomuus
Yle News

An accident on a sea road off Finland's western coast claimed the life of a rescue worker on Tuesday, according to the Oulu-Koillismaa Rescue Department.

The rescue worker fell through the ice while responding to an accident involving partially-submerged ice road equipment. The tamping machinery's operator was able to exit the vehicle without assistance.

Rescue units from Hailuoto island, Raksila, Linnanmaa and Liminka responded to the scene, following a call about the accident at about 10am. Oulu-Koillismaa Rescue Department publicly reported the incident at about 3pm.

The accident took place a few kilometers off of Hailuoto island, on the ice road that connects it to the mainland to the Oulu district of Oulunsalo.

The ice road was closed to traffic on Tuesday and will be reopened once authorities are able to confirm its safety.

The road was last reopened on Saturday, 12 February, following maintenance work.

Authorities have opened an investigation into the accident.

"The worst thing that can happen"

Local rescue agencies called for flags to be flown at half-mast and to hold a moment of silence at noon Wednesday.

Juha Richter, board chair of the Oulu-Koillismaa Rescue Department, said the accident shocked the whole agency.

"[The death of a colleague] is the worst thing that can happen," Richter said.

"Everyone knows this is a risky profession, but when something like this happens it becomes more concrete. Rescue workers may have to face death in their work, but the death of a coworker is an entirely different matter."

He said the department has reached out to the victim's relatives and colleagues, adding that crisis support services were being made available to those requiring them.

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