Mudslide Relief Mission Southern Italy

Canadian Forces (CF) Information (SARNO)

Mudslide Relief Mission Southern Italy

Name: Op SARNO -Date: 13 May 1998 - 21 June 1998

Mandating Organization: Government of Canada

Mandate: To provide clean-up assistance in the town of Sarno, Italy

CF Mission/Operation Notes: On May 5th and 6th, 1998, the Sarno area 30 kilometres east of Naples was hit by torrential rainfall. Two mudslides on 6 May covered an area of about 1000 metres by 2500 metres, in some places wiping away all traces of houses and settlement. Deforestation and illegally constructed housing in high-risk areas assisted in creating the mudslides that resulted in extensive damage to the area, including at least 161 deaths and leaving 1,500 homeless. An international effort started under the name Mudslide Relief Mission in Southern Italy, led by the Italian military and supported by the United States Navy and Marines Corps. 

In Canada, the Government authorized Canadian Forces participation, with the Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff issuing a warning order on May 13th. Under the name Operation SARNO, Canada would provide cleanup assistance. Canadian officers attached to Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) conducted a reconnaissance on 13 and 14 May to determine what the Canadian Forces could contribute.

On 14 May, the Deputy Chief Defence Staff issued the op order for Op SARNO. The main contribution would consist of 10 Bobcat steer loaders to clean up mud in tight locations where larger equipment could not be used. This type of machinery was becoming an almost essential part of the cleanup and recovery effort and it and the required support personnel would come from air force airfield engineering resources. Other personnel would come from the Canadian Contingent Stabilization Force (CC SFOR) from Bosnia. On 17 May personnel from the CC SFOR arrived in Naples by road, delivering two vehicles and one backhoe, while the air force personnel arrived on 17 and 18 May. 

The relief work started in Sarno at 10:00 AM on the 19th. Over the next 30 days the members of Op SARNO cleared mud from streets and buildings, conducting maintenance on the equipment on the days off. By June 17th, there was very little left for the Canadians to do where Bobcats were required. Clean-up for the return started on the 17th. Personnel began to return to Canada and Bosnia between 18 and 21 June. Altogether, 46 personnel served on Op SARNO.


Description: Members of the Canadian Forces help clean-up after mud slides in Sarno Italy.

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