Russian villagers on the Far East Kuril Islands are desperately trying to rescue four killer whales trapped beneath ice near the shore. The whales are unable to swim up for air or swim away into the open sea.
With temperatures in the area dropping to 25 degrees below zero, dozens of residents of the nearby village of Reidovo are using chainsaws to drill a canal between two ice-holes about 80 meters from the shore so that the whales will have enough room to swim and breath, the Itar-Tass news agency reported.
By cutting a canal about 100 meters long, the rescuers hope to allow the whales to survive in the ice drift another two or three weeks. Hopefully by that time the weather will change, and the ice will float away into the open sea, freeing the whales.
Rescuers from the Emergency Ministry are taking part in the effort, which is headed by the inspector of a local sea mammal protection agency, Viktor Isenko.
He said that several days ago six whales were trapped in the area; two have died since then, the Interfax news agency reported.
But officials from the Emergency Ministry have little hope that the villagers will be able to save the whales, because the canal they would need to cut would have to be much bigger. The only hope is a change in weather sometime soon.