Wildfires in Algeria Kill More Than 60 People
Forest fires in the forested mountains of northern Algeria have killed at least 65 people since Monday, according to Algerian state media, the latest fires to break out around the Mediterranean in an intense heat wave that has also helped start deadly fires in Greece and Turkey.
Although the military has been deployed to help fight the fires, local media have reported that at least 86 fires have yet to be brought under control in 17 different provinces across the country. The death toll as of Wednesday was up from 42 soldiers and civilians on Tuesday. Among the dead are 28 soldiers involved in fighting the fires.
President Abdelmadjid Tebboune has announced three days of national mourning for the dead. Algerian media broadcast images of a surge of solidarity with the affected regions, showing crowds of citizens flocking to towns where fires had broken out to offer aid.
The government said Tuesday, without showing any evidence, that the fires were the work of arsonists, and authorities said they had arrested and questioned three people in connection with the fires in towns including Medea and Annaba.
But Algeria suffered from a heat wave with high winds, similar to the situation in the northern Mediterranean which has helped intensify forest fires in other parts of Europe.
Temperatures in Tizi Ouzou, the area worst affected by this week’s fires so far, where most of the deaths have occurred, are expected to reach 116 degrees Fahrenheit this week.
The fires started Monday in forests and mountain villages east of Algiers, the capital, and spread across the Berber region of the country, ravaging homes, orchards and livestock.
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