A drone company said Tuesday it had received permission from the Spanish government to conduct a rescue mission to save several dogs trapped on La Palma in the Canary Islands as volcanic eruptions continue.
Video shot nearly a week ago showed the stranded dogs looking desperate, weak and skinny in ash-covered yards in the southwest area of Todoque.
The company, Aerocámaras, said Thursday that it hoped to evacuate the animals by drone. The plan, according to a statement released by the company, was to fly drones in with food for the animals, as well as another camera to inspect the logistics of the area. Once the dogs got used to the machines, they would carry out the rescue mission.
“Technically it is the most complicated thing we have done,” Jaime Pereira, chief executive of Aerocámaras and head of the mission, told Telecinco.
The air transport of the live animals, which requires a permit in Spain, was eventually approved by the government, the group said, paving the way for an intricate rescue.
The group plans to use food as bait and then scoop the canines up one by one with a cargo net fit to hold more than 50 pounds, Pereira told the network. But it’s a delicate situation: The net can hold only one dog at a time, so the drone operators have to be sure to take off at the right moment.
Still, despite the risks, Pereira said he thought there were no other options. Given the ash and lava surrounding the area, rescues by helicopter or land were not feasible.
“Either we take them out or they probably won’t be [alive] in a few days,” he said.
The continuing eruption of the Cumbre Vieja volcano has upended life on La Palma since the event began over a month ago. More than 6,000 people have had to leave their homes as lava has devoured almost 2,000 acres of land and destroyed some 2,000 buildings. Many crops of bananas, a major financial export for the island’s residents, are covered in ash and rock.
When lava reached the sea at the end of September, the potentially dangerous chemical reactions between the molten rock and the seawater kept residents confined to their homes for some time, worried about the toxic gases.
“I’m tired, so tired,” one island resident who has been living in a camping car for the past month told Reuters. “But who are we to fight against nature?”