The stages of Italian intervention in Iran

26 December 2003

On the evening of 26 December 2003, an Italian air force C130 from Pisa makes a stopover at Ciampino to pick up technical components and the Italian team, which has the task of carrying out the initial ‘search and rescue’ operations in Iran. The Italian team lands in the city of Bam at 15.32 local time after a ten-hour flight. 

Following an initial survey carried out by the Italian team in the area hit by the quake, and agreements with the local Authorities, an area is identified in the Baravat zone for the intervention and coordination of Italian relief operations. Bavarat, a town of 27,000 inhabitants and situated about 8 kilometres from the historical city of Bam, has been completely razed to the ground by the earthquake and still unreached by emergency services. 

The search and rescue operations, in close collaboration with the Iranian Naval forces, begin immediately. The dramatic situation for the population that has survived the quake makes it immediately clear that emergency medical station is needed, and it is set up the following morning, on Sunday 28 December, in the sports field in Baravat. 

Meanwhile, on the evening of Saturday 27, a second military air force C 130 lands in Bam. On board are personnel from the Fire Services, volunteers, as well as the necessary materials and equipment for rescue operations. 

28 - 29 December
In the town centre of Baravat, search operations continue, meanwhile the site for the Pisa Hospital Advanced Medical Station is prepared, due to arrive on subsequent flights. In Bam, a tent for the Italian contingent is put up as an office for the coordination of Community forces in the international area.

The voluntary civil protection dog units and the Fire Services work non-stop on search and rescue operations right throughout 29 December. Even the emergency medical station installed in Baravat continues to work incessantly, assisting the people who come to the medical teams for support and medical treatment. In the afternoon, an Airbus A 130 Cargo plane lands in Bam airport carrying the Advanced Medical Station from Pisa, as well as medicines, food supplies, tents for the setting up of a reception camp and the equipment necessary to continue with operations, while on the 29th the Iranian authorities announce the decision to suspend search and rescue operations. Seventy-two hours have passed since the quake and chance of finding survivors has drastically if not completely diminished. It is now necessary for all available human resources and materials to be fully exploited to assist the populations that have lost their homes. Therefore, the staff, Fire Service equipment and dog units prepare to return home, while the Pisa Emergency Surgery Team, composed of fourteen units of medical and paramedical staff and three tents, begins its work with the help of the Iranian military, on Tuesday 30 December.

The days to follow
The tents are used as a storehouse/changing room, and another as a waiting room and for administering medicines, while the third is used as a medicines and medical supplies store. That evening, work begins on putting up tents to accommodate the population, including the Department’s pneumatic tent, to be used as a mosque, with the intention of offering support to an extremely hard hit people and create the conditions for a return to normal everyday life and the normal socio-cultural activities of the Iranian people. On Wednesday 31 December, the strong wind that is affecting the area of the earthquake means all control and safety measures regarding the camp structures must be carried out. The remaining tents are put up and the lighting is installed to illuminate the tent city. Work continues through the 1st and 2nd January. In this phase, the activities of the Italian team are concentrated on the completion of the reception camp, restoring the electricity and water supplies, the collection of waste, and above all the training of Iranian doctors in emergency medical activities, who on 2 January take over the running of the Advanced Medical Station. 

Another air force C130 carrying tents, medical supplies, electricity generators, lampposts, etc., lands in Bam on Saturday 3 January. In the early afternoon, the Head of the Department of Civil Protection, Guido Bertolaso, the Vice Head of Department Vincenzo Spaziante, the delegate from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Riccardo Sessa and from the Ministry for Cultural Heritage Giuseppe Proietti, who will be collaborating in the reconstruction of the historical and artistic heritage of the city of Bam, arrive in the quake-hit area. The meeting between the Italian delegation and the Iranian authorities at the camp in Baravat formalises the handing over of the facilities set up by the Italian team.

Sunday 4 January 2004
The Italian mission ends after 10 days of activities with the return of all personnel who worked on Iranian territory to the military airport of Ciampino. Italian activities involved a total of 57 people who worked non-stop, five flights carrying materials and equipment, which came to a total of approximately 60 tons.