Aerial picture shows the yard where the dogs are stranded and the food package delivered, Source: Cabildo de La Palma

Drones to rescue dogs trapped by volcanic eruption

Drones to rescue dogs trapped by volcanic eruption

The first time such an attempt will be made but the window of opportunity is short

Yesterday, authorities on the island of La Palma gave permission to a drone operator to attempt the rescue of three stranded dogs with the help of a specially equipped flying device. The animals, which are now quite malnourished after weeks of isolation, will get the chance to be lifted to safety, however, there is only an 8-minute window to perform the operation for each of them.

50-kg drone equipped with a net

La Palma has been making global headlines thanks to the ongoing volcanic eruption that has disrupted life on part of its territory. The lava flowing from the Cumbre Vieja has swallowed thousands of houses already before reaching the ocean. Furthermore, volcanic ash and hot gas in the area make it impossible for helicopters to fly there.

It seems, however, that where the choppers can’t go the drones will be able to. In fact, the dogs in question are still alive thanks to ongoing deliveries of food and water done by the flying devices. These caring missions began on 9 October after the Canary Islands Ministry of Security and Emergencies hired the Ticom Soluciones SL drone operator to deliver nutrition to the animals living in a stranded yard.

It has now been decided, though, to take the next step and try and fish the dogs out of their enclosure and airlift them for 450 metres over the lava flow to a safe spot where they can be retrieved.

For this purpose, Reuters reported that a 50-kg drone, equipped with a net, will be used. Still, the rescue operation is expected to be tricky. No one knows for sure how the animals will react. They might get scared and scramble away or they might be too exhausted to do that.

The idea is to pick them one by one and carry them over to safety. There is one more catch, however, the battery can only last for 8 minutes. That gives rescuers 4 minutes to try and trap each dog and 4 more minutes of flying time.

Test flights are being performed but ultimately it depends on the dogs’ reactions. Rescuers, however, pointed out that the drone provides their only real chance for survival.



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