38 dead, hundreds injured and dozens of fire starts

38 dead, hundreds injured and dozens of fire starts
In the region of Tizi Ouzou, Algeria, on August 12.

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In recent days, violent forest fires have killed at least thirty-eight people in Algeria, according to a new report established Thursday, August 18. This toll increased with thirty dead in the El Tarf area, in the east, near the border with Tunisia, five in Souk Ahras (east), two women in Sétif (east) and one person in Guelma , still in the east, according to civil protection, local journalists and Ennahar television. In addition, more than two hundred people were injured, according to local media.

Of the thirty-nine fires that ravaged fourteen wilayas (departments) in northern Algeria, a number were still ongoing on Thursday. The authorities fear the outbreak of fire due to gusts of wind.

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Civil protection and army water bomber helicopters intervened in several towns. Algeria has chartered a Russian Beriev Be-200 water bomber plane, but after responding to several fires, it suffered a breakdown and will not be operational again until Saturday, the Minister of Interior reported. interior, Kamel Beldjoud, Wednesday evening.

Prime Minister Aymen Benabderrahmane arrived in El Tarf on Thursday morning, according to television. The gendarmerie has closed several national roads because of the fires.

In Souk Ahras, near the Tunisian border, a major fire was still going on Thursday morning in the mountainous area of ​​Jebel Oued Chouk, according to a local journalist contacted by telephone by Agence France-Presse (AFP). He spoke of scenes of panic on Wednesday in this city of five hundred thousand inhabitants. According to this journalist, ninety-seven women and seventeen newborns who were in a hospital near a forest area had to be evacuated.

One hundred and six fires since the beginning of August

  Near Algiers, August 11, 2022.

Each year, the north of Algeria is affected by forest fires, but this phenomenon is accentuated from year to year under the effect of climate change. Global warming increases the likelihood of heat waves and droughts and, in turn, fires. It was around 48 degrees on Wednesday in El Tarf, Guelma and Souk Ahras.

These fires rekindle wounds and the debate on the absence of water bomber planes in sufficient numbers, which had already agitated the country last summer after deadly fires. The summer of 2021 was the deadliest since Algerian independence: at least ninety people died in forest fires that ravaged the North, where more than 100,000 hectares of coppice went up in smoke.

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Since the beginning of August, 106 fires have broken out in Algeria, destroying 800 hectares of forest and 1,800 hectares of coppice, said Mr. Beldjoud. “Some of these fires were caused”said the Minister of the Interior.

The largest country in Africa, Algeria has only 4.1 million hectares of forest, with a meager reforestation rate of 1.76%.

The World with AFP

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