After the storm: drones sent in to help locate victims of deadly US hurricanes

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After the storm: drones sent in to help locate victims of deadly US hurricanes


Infrared drones have been sent in to search for victims following a series of devastating hurricanes that smashed through several southern United States on Sunday.

One of the twisters was a mile (1.6km) wide and travelled at speeds of 170mph (274kph), tore through Alabama, Florida and Georgia.

Thousands of houses and vehicles were destroyed and at least 23 people, including children, were killed. All told, this was the deadliest twister in six years.

To get a taste of the aftermath of the twisters, check out the video below:

Finding victims

Tornados of the scale of the ones that hit on Sunday obliterate buildings: splintering wood, twisting metal and tearing structures to shreds. In the aftermath, finding the survivors can be a difficult task. Rescue services have employed rescue dogs and infrared-equipped drones to search the carnage.

The infrared drones in these situations are tasked with flying back and forth over large swathes of land, looking for heat signature that may correspond to people lying beneath the wreckage.

A Lee County Sheriff reports there are still dozens of people missing across three states. While the hardest hit areas had already been searched, according to sources on the ground, there are still many more areas yet to be searched.

Drones have played a major role in many search and rescue operations over the past few years. A study released last year showed that in 50 trials comparing the effectiveness of human rescue workers to drones, in 85 percent of cases, UAVs were faster than human rescue teams at finding targets. As of July last year, some 160 people are confirmed to have had their lives saved by drones.

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