MILWAUKEE – Twelve people were plucked from the ice off Green Bay Thursday after a passing freighter and heavy winds created a 6-mile-long, 400- to 500-foot-wide crack that separated them from the eastern shore, according to the U.S. Coast Guard, which joined in the rescues.

The 12 all had been ice fishing, some about a mile off the Wisconsin shore. Still stranded on the ice are at least two trucks and three all-terrain vehicles.

“They’ll have to wait for the winds to shift and hope for hard freeze, and then they can get them back,” said Coast Guard spokesman Charles Wolfson. “And pray they’re still out there and haven’t fallen through the ice.”

Rescue workers from five agencies, some in helicopters and an air boat, pulled 8 people from the ice between Dykesville and Little Sturgeon Bay. Two were rescued off of Shoemaker Point, and two near Sugar Creek, according to Wolfson.

No one is believed to have fallen into the bay. But the Coast Guard used the opportunity to warn ice fishermen that cracks are possible while freighters are still plying the shipping lanes.

“It’s early in the season and it can still be a safety hazard,” said Wolfson.

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AP-NY-01-01-09 1848EST

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