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Wildfires claim lives across northern Algeria

August 18, 2022

At least 26 people have died with several dozen injured amid separate forest fires raging across drought-hit northern Algeria. Most of the fatalities were near the border with Tunisia.

Firefighters intervene by land to control a wildfire in Setif, Algeria
Forest fires have occurred in 106 different points in many cities since the beginning of AugustImage: Algerian Civil Defense/AA/picture alliance

The number of victims of wildfires in Algeria has risen to 26 from eight reported earlier, Algerian Interior Minister Kamel Beldjoud announced.

The fires have been burning across large swaths of the country, with 39 fires active in 14 provinces at present amid record dryness in parts of the northern hemisphere.

What's the latest?

The interior minister explained that two people had died in Setif, while 24 had perished in El Taref, near the border with Tunisia. 

Several people suffered burns or breathing difficulties, but no new figures on the number of injured were given.

An earlier report from the country's civil protection agency said four people were burned to varying degrees and 41 had breathing difficulties in Souk Ahras, another town on the Tunisian border.

Since the beginning of August, 106 fires have broken out that have destroyed 800 hectares of forest and 1,800 hectares of brush, the interior minister noted. 

"Some of these fires resulted from arson," Beldjoud said.

Annual disaster, getting worse

Including the latest figures, the number of deaths recorded this summer due to fires has now risen to 30. 

Each year, the north of the country is affected by forest fires, but this phenomenon has become exacerbated by climate change and a greater frequency of heat waves and droughts. 

The summer of 2021 was particularly deadly, with at least 90 deaths caused by the fires that affected the north of the country, where more than 100,000 hectares of forest burned.

rc/kb (Reuters, LUSA)