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Algeria forest fires death toll rises to 38, officials say

Algeria forest fires death toll rises to 38, officials say

  • At least 38 people have died in forest fires ravaging northern Algeria.
  • Interior minister says at least 200 others have suffered burns and respiratory issues.
  • Last year’s fires killed at least 90 people and destroyed more than 100,000 hectares of forest.

 

At least 38 people have died and dozens more have been injured in forest fires that have ravaged northern Algeria.

The country’s interior minister, Kamel Beldjoud, said 24 people were killed in El Tarf, near the border with Tunisia, as well as a mother and daughter in Setif.

According to local media, at least 200 others have suffered burns and respiratory issues.

On Thursday morning, firefighters were still battling several blazes with the help of helicopters.

The names of the 58-year-old mother and her 36-year-old daughter who died in Setif have not yet been released, but officials said flames had reached dozens of homes and villages.

Officials reported 39 fires raging across northern Algeria, and they warned that hot winds could spread the flames even further.

According to the civil protection agency, the city of El Tarf was the hardest hit, with 16 fires currently burning.

According to reports, 350 people have been evacuated across several provinces.

Every year, forest fires rage in northern Algeria, according to Mr Beldjoud, who reports that 106 fires have erupted in Algeria since August, destroying 800 hectares of forest and 1,800 hectares of woodlands.

Last year’s fires killed at least 90 people and destroyed more than 100,000 hectares of forest.

Mr Beldjoud blamed arson for a string of fires in Algeria’s Kabyle region last August, claiming that “only criminal hands” could explain “the simultaneous outbreak of about 50 fires across several localities.”

With Thursday’s death toll, the total number of Algerians killed in wildfires this summer now stands at 42.

The latest fires occur during a summer that has seen a number of countries in the Mediterranean region ravaged by wildfires, most notably France, Greece, Portugal, Spain, and Italy.

Just last week, over 1,000 firefighters battled what they called a “monster” wildfire near Bordeaux.

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