20 tourists stranded on Canadian ice floe break-away, were camping when four-mile sheet broke away

A tourist group that was trapped at sea on a drifting ice floe in the Canadian arctic is now safe, after their sheet of ice drifted near land, allowing them to walk to shore, the Canadian coast guard said.

All are safe and sound and have food.

Helicopters deployed to rescue them were unable to pick them up after running into bad weather and are standing by to airlift the group to an arctic station, said marine coordinator Christian Cafiti.

[Original story, posted Wednesday, 1:04 a.m. ET]

Helicopters were on their way early Wednesday to the far reaches of the Canadian arctic to rescue 20 tourists, including two Americans, adrift at sea on a chunk of ice.

The tourists, who were on an expedition, are in "fair" condition. There are no medical emergencies, a Canadian air force spokesman said.

Their chances of being rescued alive are high, because they notified authorities as soon as they saw that the ice shelf they were on had broken free, said spokesman Steven Neta.

It will take the helicopters hours to reach their position on the ice floe off of Admiralty Inlet in the northernmost province of Nunavut. The air force hopes to hoist them on board by 5 a.m. ET.

A Royal Canadian Air Force plane is circling overhead to keep a watchful eye on the tourists, and it has dropped three survival kits, which include satellite phones, rations and rubber rafts. Neta thinks the group will stay warm enough. "They have the right clothing," he said.

The tourists were camping out on the ice, when a four square mile sheet broke free early Tuesday and floated away from land.

"Ice breaking off is a very common thing at this time of year," Neta said.

The floe has since drifted two miles away from land and appears to be further crumbling, Neta said. If it falls apart, the three rubber rafts are more than large enough to hold the whole group.

"They have plenty of capacity within life rafts to stay dry," he said.

The cold should also not be too harsh. Even that far north, daytime highs in June often rise well above freezing.

CNN's Kevin Conlon contributed to this report

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