SAPPORO (Kyodo) Two elderly brothers died Friday after the ice on Lake Saroma in the town of Yubetsu, Hokkaido, facing the Okhotsk Sea broke suddenly while they were ice fishing, police said.

Brothers Kazuichi Shigemura, 79, and Osamu Shigemura, 68, from Obihiro in southeastern Hokkaido, were with the younger brother’s grandson, 14, and granddaughter, 12.

The children also fell into the lake but managed to make it back to shore.

Police said the four began fishing on the ice about 350 meters from the shore around 6 a.m. The incident occurred around 1:45 p.m. when they were moving to another spot. The older brother and the boy fell into the water when the ice cracked suddenly and the other two were dragged in while trying to rescue them, they said.

After making it back to shore, the children called for help. A 26-year-old man who works at a nearby shop spotted the children and called police. “They were all wet . . . and unable to speak,” the man said.

The brothers were pulled out of the water two hours later and taken to a hospital, but were pronounced dead.

The local meteorological observatory in Abashiri said the temperature in the area was 7.2 degrees, a level usually seen in mid-April. Locals had refrained from ice fishing in recent days because the ice had begun to thin, police said.

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