Belfast Telegraph

Drone searches 'unsafe' house

Police in Northern Ireland have deployed a remotely piloted drone to search a burned out building.

They also used a tracked vehicle which provided a live video feed from inside the unsafe property in Cookstown earlier this month.

The technology belongs to SkyWatch NI, a charity which deploys humanitarian search and rescue equipment to assist police and fire services dealing with disasters.

A spokesman said: "The ability to search the building from a height and internally reduced the risk to the police search teams and dogs.

"The reduced search time also allowed local officers to close the scene and return to normal duties."

SkyWatch NI, the local division of the UK based Civil Air Patrol, checked the property in James Street in the Co Tyrone town on November 3 at the request of the PSNI search team, using an unmanned aerial vehicle and a tracked vehicle.

The machines were operated by a member of SkyWatch which specialises in producing live video footage in hazardous or inaccessible areas. SkyWatch volunteers were able to quickly establish the condition of the building internally and provide officers on the ground with a direct view of the internal layout and level of damage by the fire via video fed to the ground station and multiple iPads, the spokesman added.

This was followed up by a more detailed search using the tracked vehicle, providing search team members with a live video to establish the building was unoccupied at the time of the fire.

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