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Gemma McCluskie: Robot helps in search for EastEnders actress' missing head

PUBLISHED: 17:51 17 April 2012 | UPDATED: 18:15 17 April 2012

Gemma McCluskie

Gemma McCluskie

submitted by police

Underwater robots have been used in London for the first time in the grisly search for the missing head belonging to killed EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie.

The two robots were brought in last week by water rescue charity Sarbot, to help the Met scan the Regents Canal where the torso of the 29-year-old actress from Bethnal Green, was found near Broadway Market in Hackney.

Sarbot is also calling for a underwater robot base to be introduced in the East End in time for the Olympics.

Among emergency workers taking part in the search were Sarbot founder Hedley Haward, who explained the remote controlled robots searched the canal 300 meters in either direction from Dunston Road in Hackney.

Mr Haward said: “Our colour cameras have an image enhancer so if it sees too much green, i.e algae, it clears the image. It hovers around like a helicopters and gives us a 120 meter view in zero visibility whereas divers are limited by their vision and ability to feel.”

Legs and arms believed to belong to Miss McCluskie have also been found in Regents Canal and Mr Haward confirmed they were looking for her missing head last Friday and Saturday.

Sarbot hopes to set up a permanent robot station in the East End manned by volunteers in time for the Olympics to help with emergency rescues.

Mr Haward, a former firefighter, said: “We are looking around Limehouse and Bow which is densely populated. The area is going to be very busy during the Olympics with people who might not be familiar with the dangers of the waterways and tidal parts of the Thames.

“We are the only emergency service providing under water rescue. The fire brigade and RNLI only do water surface rescues.

“There are 245 drowning in London every year and the medical protocol says it is possible to resuscitate someone 90 minutes after they have been under water.”

The aim of the charity is to set up underwater bases in every county in the UK.

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