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Two people missing after canoes go over Minnesota waterfall

Rescuers in northern Minnesota are searching for two people who have been missing since Saturday after going over Curtain Falls in canoes. Rescuers said they were able to "successfully evacuate two injured patients" from the water, but "two paddlers are still missing." Photo courtesy of St. Louis County Rescue Squad/Ben Hartley
Rescuers in northern Minnesota are searching for two people who have been missing since Saturday after going over Curtain Falls in canoes. Rescuers said they were able to "successfully evacuate two injured patients" from the water, but "two paddlers are still missing." Photo courtesy of St. Louis County Rescue Squad/Ben Hartley

May 21 (UPI) -- Rescuers in northern Minnesota are searching for two people who have been missing since Saturday after their canoes went over Curtain Falls.

The St. Louis County Sheriff's Office said two canoes went over Curtain Falls in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness at 7:21 p.m. local time on Saturday near the Canadian border.

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"Friends, two families and a wide circle of friends are devastated tonight by the events at Curtain Falls," the St. Louis County Rescue Squad wrote Sunday in a Facebook post.

"Two canoes carrying four individuals went over the falls. Despite many challenges and setbacks, we successfully evacuated two injured patients late last night, as well as a third uninjured person in their party from a campsite early this morning," the rescuers added.

"Two paddlers are still missing. We ask that you keep them and their families in your thoughts."

The search for the two missing people, who were identified as 41-year-old Jesse Melvin Haugen and 40-year-old Reis Melvin Grams, resumed Sunday with no success.

Searchers are using remote-controlled vehicles and drones, according to the sheriff's office, which said rescuers are "still in 24-hour operation."

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"Curtain Falls is extremely difficult to access, and we are depending heavily on our aviation partners to transport equipment, supplies and personnel in and out of the backcountry."

Sheriff's office Division Commander Nate Skelton told reporters that rescuers were dealing with "high water, rapid current" in their search.

"The falls progress down about 30 feet ... It's not a straight drop but they move down between Crooked Lake and Iron Lake and they trickle down with a lot of fast-moving water."

Skelton said the canoeists had been fishing at the top of the falls Saturday night.

"Four of them were basically anchored at the top of the falls fishing, which they've done in the past, and it sounds like one of them may have had an issue and the other one went to try to give some assistance and both canoes and four people went over the falls."

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