A Spanish company specializing in the operation of large drones said Tuesday afternoon that it had finally obtained permission to attempt the rescue of four dogs trapped by lava on the island of La Palma, where a volcano is in eruption since September 19.
“Good news! We are very happy to announce that we have received the necessary authorizations to carry out the dog rescue operation in La Palma with drones,” Aerocámaras said in a Twitter message at 3.30pm. team is on their way to the forward command post. We’ll keep you posted! “
The authorization was confirmed on Wednesday morning by Miguel Ángel Morcuende, technical director and spokesperson for the Volcanic Risk Prevention Plan (Pevolca), the team of experts monitoring the eruption. “Yesterday at 5.30 pm, the form in question was received by the Cabildo [island authority]. This morning it was viewed, analyzed and approved. We hope the plan will be successful.
The drone company said its pilots went out to test “with the emergency crews” on Tuesday afternoon. In a video shared on Twitter on Tuesday, Aerocámaras CEO Jaime Pereira explained that they had just received an email telling them that their request would be formally accepted the next morning and that they were already on their way to the site.
The plight of the hunting dogs, which have been trapped in two empty water tanks for several days, has made headlines around the world. The area is located within the limits of Todoque, one of the first areas to be devastated by the advancing lava flows from the volcano of Cumbre Vieja.
Aerocámaras, based in northwestern Spain and licensed to use large drones for assistance in emergency situations, will attempt to bring them to safety in a move that has not yet been attempted to date . A wave of support has helped the company transport 100 kilograms of heavy equipment from the Galicia region to La Palma in Spain’s Canary Islands off the northwest coast of Africa.
The rescue effort was hampered by legal issues, as Spanish law lacks rules on transporting live animals with unmanned aircraft systems (it was initially reported to be illegal; instead , there is a legal vacuum in this area).
For a week and a half, local companies Ticom Soluciones and Volcanic Life have been using light drones weighing less than 250 grams to deliver food and water to prisoners. podencos, a popular hunting breed in rural Spain. But the situation weighs on the dogs, who seem weaker and weaker.
Aerocámaras CEO Jaime Pereira warned the rescue operation would be tricky and said they had to quickly develop a new system to support the weight of the dogs and the adverse flight conditions the drone will face. . The area is surrounded by hot lava, ash and smoke, making rescue by land impossible.
Pereira said designing a system to catch the dogs was the hardest part of all. His team of engineers have developed a net that can be slaughtered with wet dog food in the center. “The bottom line is that the dogs should be encouraged to walk straight into the center of the net,” Pereira said. Once there, the drone would lift the net and transport the animal to safety. This can only be done one animal at a time, further complicating the rescue. “If there was a problem, we developed a quick release system that would leave the animal on the ground,” he added.
A local animal rights group named Leales.org, who originally raised the issue of trapped dogs, set up a fundraiser on GoFundme. The drive was originally intended to pay for the expenses of Aerocámaras, but the drone company said on October 17 that it would not charge the group of animals for its services. Instead, the money raised by the crowdfunding campaign will be used to cover the unpaid debts of animal shelters in La Palma to veterinary clinics and to help other animals affected by the volcanic eruption.