Hundreds of thousands flock to the ice

Over 100,000 people took part in organised skating tours through the Dutch countryside on Sunday, the skating association KNSB told news agency ANP.

A similar number took part on Saturday in what the KNSB said were perfect conditions.
In total, there were 23 organised routes, ranging in length from 10 to 200km. Hundreds of volunteers were involved checking the routes for ice safety, checking participants and manning car parks.
It was the first time in 12 years that skating tours over natural ice have taken place.
All over the country, experienced and beginning skaters flocked to rivers, lakes and outdoor ice rinks and there was heavy traffic congestion along the narrow country roads in popular skating areas. In total up to half a million people enjoyed the ice this weekend, ANP said.
And although a number of people were taken to hospital with head injuries and broken bones, there were no disasters, the KNSB said.
Among the injured was defence minister Eimert van Middelkoop, who broke his wrist while skating a 30km route between Bleiswijk and Zevenhuizen, the Telegraaf said.
Hospitals said their accident and emergency departments were twice as busy as on a normal weekend, with patients having to wait hours in some cases for treatment. Hospitals in Amsterdam and Breda brought in extra staff to cope with the pressure, the Telegraaf said.
Ten people and a dog who were attempting to walk across the ice to the island of Pampus in the Ijsselmeer lake near Amsterdam had to be rescued by helicopter after a gap opened up in the ice and they could not get back.
The KNMI weather bureau said on Monday that the cold snap did not count as an official ‘cold wave’ because the temperature had not remained below zero for five days in a row, with at least three days of minus 10.
For photographs of this weekend’s skating, click here and here

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