(GUARDIAN) A dozen killer whalestrapped and facing near-certain death in the frozen expanse of Canada’s Hudson Bay, broke free on Thursday morning, to the vast relief of locals and many thousands monitoring their plight online.

Pictures of the whales clustered around a 10-foot hole in the ice that was their last source of oxygen had set off a desperate search for rescue options.

The authorities in Inukjuak, a village of around 1,800 in northern Quebec, posted video of the distressed orcas on YouTube and Facebook on Wednesday in a bid to get the Canadian government to intervene.

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