1 dead, 5 missing after snowmobilers fall through ice on Lac Saint-Jean

Canada. (Photo by Veronique DURRUTY/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

One man is dead and five others are missing after their snowmobiles went through the ice along Lac Saint-Jean Tuesday night.

Emergency services and the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) were called to a channel at the edge of the lake, between the towns of Saint-Henri-de-Taillon and Alma, at 7:30 p.m.

The snowmobilers were French tourists travelling with a guide, totalling nine people. They were driving across the snow-covered channel when the ice gave way beneath them.

One person who went through the ice was helped out of the water by two members of the group who had managed to brake and avoid falling in.

The three of them then drove to shore and called emergency services from a store in Saint-Henri-de-Taillon.

Firefighters from Alma recovered a fourth person, the 42-year-old guide, from the water. He was transported to hospital and died Wednesday morning.

SQ spokesperson Hugues Beaulieu said the group deviated from the marked snowmobile paths — which are inspected daily — and went out onto the lake.

"They must not have known the area well, because it's an area known for having critically thin ice because of the current," Beaulieu said.

Members of the SQ's snowmobile team, the Alma fire department and Canadian Armed Forces searched the area overnight. 

Beaulieu said divers are expected at the site Wednesday.

Lac Saint-Jean is located about 70 kilometres north-west of Saguenay.