The bodies of three kayakers were found in the frigid waters of a glacial lake in Alaska, officials said.
A spokeswoman in the port city of Valdez said the victims were spotted at about 10 a.m. Tuesday on Valdez Glacier Lake, where responders later recovered the bodies from the water near the toe of the glacier about 120 miles east of Anchorage.
The identities of the victims were withheld pending family notification, but the Anchorage Daily News reported that the kayakers were tourists from Germany, including a married couple, both 67, and a 62-year-old man.
The victims appeared to have been paddling in the lake on a single inflatable canoe-type boat and were all wearing life jackets when they were recovered at about 2 p.m., some four hours after they were initially seen by a kayak guide in the area.
Two of the tourists’ bodies were found floating in the water, while the third was discovered atop an ice floe, Pierce said.
It’s unclear what led to the deaths, but foul play is not expected. Shedding ice from the glacier delayed the response time of Valdez rescue team personnel and police in reaching the three bodies, Pierce told the newspaper.
“It’s dangerous getting near the face of glaciers like that,” she said. “If they were knocked out of the boat due to a wake or a calving piece of ice, the water is very cold.”
A message seeking additional comment from Pierce was not immediately returned early Wednesday.
The water temperature off Valdez dipped to as low as 49 degrees on Tuesday, federal data shows.
Valdez Glacier Lake, a popular Alaska destination for visitors year-round, offers majestic views of the Chugach Mountains and the Valdez Glacier, where ice has been “more or less retreating” for the last 10,000 years, according to a state tourism website.
“And with the warming climate, it’s a place worth seeing before the glacier retracts father than it already has,” the website reads.