(Screengrab from YouTube) Drones, no doubt, perform a lot of jobs well, from planting trees to catching criminals. But one of their most important tasks is to reshape our perspective by granting us a view of the world from a higher vantage point. After a 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked Nepal over the weekend, the destruction was immediately felt as people fled from their homes and searched for survivors in the rubble of buildings. The earthquake, and its continuing volleys of aftershocks, has claimed the lives of nearly 4,000 people and forced locals to sleep in the streets out of fear their homes may collapse during the night.
From the ground, the damage from the quake is immediately perceived. But footage recorded by a drone flying over Kathmandu, piloted by amateur photographer Kishor Rana, conveyed the truly widespread nature of the disaster. The footage shows rubble from ancient structures, homes in ruin, giant cracks branching across major roadways and thousands of stunned people gathering in the city’s squares. Currently, the major concern is ensuring the safety of survivors as food and water shortages, as well as the lack of electricity, are causing a humanitarian crisis in the region. Charities and NGOs around the world are organizing rescue and relief efforts, and there are a number of ways you can help, too. Drone footage from Kathmandu also demonstrates the helpful role drones can play at the scene of disasters. They can act as eyes in the sky for emergency responders to assess damage and organize relief efforts based on real-time feedback. Drones’ agile reconnaissance ability is one of the primary reasons the American Red Cross is getting serious about deploying the technology at disaster zones here in the United States.