(MONTREAL) — The killer whales trapped under ice in a remote Quebec village reached safety after the floes shifted on Hudson Bay, according to the mayor’s office in Inukjuak.
Water opened up around the area where the orcas had been coming up for air and the winds seemed to have shifted overnight, creating a passageway to the open water six miles away.
“This is great news,” Johnny Williams, a local resident who works for the mayor’s office, told ABC News. Williams said he was unsure how far the whales have moved, but that they were definitely not under the ice hole.
Residents in the remote village of Inukjuak had been watching helplessly as at least 12 whales struggled to breathe out of a hole slightly bigger than a pickup truck in a desperate bid to survive.
The community had asked the Canadian government for help in freeing the killer whales, believed to be an entire family. The government denied a request to bring icebreakers Wednesday, saying they were too far away to help. Inukjuak, about 900 miles north of Montreal, was ill-equipped to jump into action.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Paul Cruickshank and Michael Pearson, CNN