Rescue attempt with drones for pets trapped by a Volcano. The world watches the awesome destructive forces of a volcano on the island of La Palma while groups are deploying drones in a race to care for the pets, stranded and starving, that are victims of the advancing lava flows.
Earlier this month two local La Palma groups began flying their drones, searching for dogs and other animals that somehow have survived the lava flows. A search and rescue group – Volcanic Life have conducted missions along with Ticom Soluciones who has been monitoring the Volcano with UAVs. They are trying to locate pets cut off from the rest of the island and are facing dehydration and starvation.
The missions began October 7 after dogs were spotted in the Todoque area of La Palma. Ash makes helicopter flights dangerous and the roads have been cut off by lava, so Ticom and Volcanic Life collaborated and got permission from Cabildo de la Palma, the local authorities, to conduct drone flights to locate as many stranded animals as possible. Still shots and videos on social media show heartbreaking images. Dogs suffering from starvation and a terrified cat in an empty swimming pool.
However, finding the trapped animals was only phase 1 of the plan. It was impossible for humans to get in, so the alternate plan was to fly food and water in with drones to sustain them until another solution could be found. Countless flights have been made, but with no sign of the volcano going dormant, many additional flights will be needed.
Despite the drops, the animals continue to deteriorate. A third, a drone company, Aerocameras, has proposed flying a 50 kg drone to attempt lifting them over the lava, moving them 450 meters away from the advancing flow. Authorities have approved this plan. This operation involves using remote controlled nets fired from the UAV to catch the animals. An Aerocameras spokesman said “If this is the last resort to save the animals then we are going in.” They have begun trial flights to prepare for the rescue. The pilots only have four minutes to secure each dog and four minutes to fly more than a quarter mile. Any more time will leave the battery too depleted to complete the rescue. The animals must be netted quickly so they don’t run out of battery over lava. The animal’s reaction is the unknown factor.
These companies and the individuals involved with this rescue are selflessly giving of themselves. They have received full support from the La Palma authorities and the world holds their breath as it watches this heroic effort.