Ice skaters urged to stay off Europe's thawing lakes

media captionSome bystanders put their own safety at risk to help the ice skaters who were stranded in the freezing water in Amsterdam

Days of sub-zero temperatures saw not only parts of northern Europe covered in snow but also the freezing of many lakes, ponds and canals.

For many, it has been a welcome escape from coronavirus lockdown restrictions, prompting them to dig out their sledges and skates for some winter fun.

Officials have been urging people to stay at home to avoid crowds and prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Now they are also warning of the dangers of thinning ice.

There were a number of incidents across Germany at the weekend where people fell through the ice, including a couple who were skating.

But it has not put people off.

Bild newspaper reported that as many as 2,500 people descended on the frozen Landwehr Canal in Berlin on Sunday for an unauthorised rave until police broke it up.

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And there was some criticism of the police use of helicopters above two other lakes in Berlin, to urge hundreds of walkers and skaters off the ice.

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"These lakes are deep, because of the recent floods, and there will be areas where the ice is going to be thin," warned Alan Wright of the Lancashire Wildlife Trust.

"Our reserves, by their nature, are remote places and if anyone gets into difficulties, there will only be a few, if any, people around to help."

Over in the Netherlands, people have been enjoying the chance to skate on their frozen canals for the first time in nearly three years.

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image captionPeople have been playing hockey on the frozen waters near Eindhoven in the Netherlands

There were even cricket and hockey matches being played on frozen waters around the country.

But a number of people fell into one pond because of thinning ice in the Hague, leading the city council to warn people to keep away.

And while Prime Minister Mark Rutte warned against mass skating because of the coronavirus restrictions, he also pleaded "Please don't fall and have to go to the hospital because it is already so busy there."

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