A group of unfortunate ice skaters needed a helping hand after being plunged into the icy waters of Amsterdam's canals on Sunday.

Onlookers used hockey sticks and ropes to help pull a number of people out of the freezing canal after the sheet of ice they had been skating on cracked and broke.

Sub-zero temperatures have provided perfect conditions for skating in the Netherlands, which has a long tradition of the sport.

People have been flocking to canals in Amsterdam and all over the Netherlands to enjoy the wintry conditions.

However, local authorities have warned that the current cold snap in the country is coming to an end and it may be dangerous to skate.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte had also warned against mass skating to avoid the risk of spreading Covid-19 as well as injuries that could clog up hospital emergency rooms.

Skating, like cycling, is a Dutch tradition, and almost everyone is said to have a pair of skates ready for when the canals freeze over.

Many had hoped that a popular competition, the Elfstedentocht, or Eleven Cities Race, would be held for the first time in nearly a quarter-century this year.

But Mr Rutte said skating had to be limited to pairs under anti-coronavirus restrictions.

Emergency rooms were twice as busy as usual on Saturday as people turned up with broken wrists and other injuries suffered during falls, medical staff associations noted on Twitter.

Meanwhile, footage of a man who fell through the ice while skating topless on Amsterdam's Keizersgracht canal has been viewed millions of times on social media.

The unidentified man did not appear to be harmed in the incident, managing to make his way out of the water and back onto the ice.

Separate footage shows him bowing to onlookers after his escape.