Operation TORRENT

Canadian Forces (CF) Information (TORRENT)

Name: Op TORRENT -Date: 18 August 1999 - 30 September 1999

Mandating Organization: Government of Canada

Mandate: To provide humanitarian relief to the survivors of the Serdivan earthquake.

CF Mission/Operation Notes: The North Anatolian Fault is one of the best-studied slip zone faults, where two sections of continental crust slid horizontally past each other. Scientists were aware that in one 100 kilometre section the fault had not moved in a long period of time, whereas the surrounding sections of the fault had all produced major earthquakes since 1939. A major earthquake was expected; only the timing was unknown. 

On 17 August 1999, a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck western Turkey, shaking for 37 seconds, when the anticipated section finally moved, in some areas up to 5 metres horizontally. Over 17,000 people were killed, 50,000 injured and 500,000 left homeless. 

In Canada, the government accepted a request from the Government of Turkey for assistance. A Deputy Chief of Defence Staff operation order issued on 18 August authorized the Disaster Assistance Response Team to send a strategic reconnaissance team there to liaise with Department of Foreign Affairs and Canadian International Development Agency representatives in Turkey. The team left on 18 August, followed by the remainder of the DART augmented by engineers from 5 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group on succeeding days. Two rented Russian Antonov AN-124 aircraft as well as a Canadian Forces CC-150 Polaris flew the team and its equipment to Turkey.

DART set up its equipment in Serdivan, 30 kilometres from the quake's epicentre and 100 kms east of Istanbul. The initial task was to provide medical support and water to the survivors. Over 5,000 people were treated and 2.5 million litres of water produced by the three Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Units. Most of the water was distributed by trucks; however, 200,000 litres were distributed in one litre plastic bags.

DART also provided mid-term assistance by setting up a tent camp that could accommodate 2,500 people, and included washrooms and shower facilities, as well as providing washroom and shower facilities in other ten camps. DART also tested 50 water sources, monitored the water quality at a treatment plant and four pumping stations in the Serdivan area. DART ceased operations on 25 September, with its 200 members being to return home on the 28th.


August 29, 1999 

Members of 5e Régiment de Génie du Canada (5 RGC), Valcartier, Quebec distribute water to the population.

The Canadian government has consistently demonstrated strong support for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations throughout the world. Nationally and internationally, the Canadian Forces (CF) have deployed to disaster-struck regions to conduct humanitarian relief operations. Since 1990, international missions have included relief operations in Rwanda, Haiti, Honduras and Turkey. 

More than 200 Canadian Forces personnel and the Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) have been dispatched to the earthquake-stricken area, to provide medical assistance, engineer support, and clean water for Operation Torrent. 

Photo by: Cpl Guy Lavoie

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