US & Canada

Flying 'quad copter' triggers White House alert

A member of the Secret Service's Uniformed Division sits in his car on Pennsylvania Avenue outside the White House January 26, 2015 in Washington, DC Image copyright AFP
Image caption A White House spokesman said the device posed no threat.

A flying device triggered a security alert when it landed in the grounds of the White House, a US official says.

The US Secret Service said a "quad copter" - a small machine powered by four rotor blades - had been found. An investigation has been launched.

President Barack Obama and the First Lady are currently on a visit to India.

The US Secret Service, which is tasked with the president's security, has been criticised for recent lapses, leading to a leadership reorganisation.

In September a man armed with a knife scaled the White House perimeter fence and gained access to the building.

Days earlier an armed private security guard had been allowed to ride in the same lift as the president.

Although Mr and Mrs Obama were in New Delhi when the device was found, their children are believed to be in Washington DC, according to the New York Times.

At a press briefing in India, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said: "I don't have any reason to think at this point that the first family is in any danger."

US media reports initially described the device as a small drone, but the Secret Service later said it was a two-foot-wide quad copter.

The device flew into the White House grounds at about 03:08 local time (08:08 GMT) and crashed into the south-eastern side of the complex, it said.

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