At least 69 people have died in a massive fire in northern Algeria. A dozen fires intensified due to scorching heat and against which firefighters, soldiers and volunteers are engaged in a struggle on Wednesday.
According to official reports, at least 28 soldiers and 37 civilians were killed in these fires in Kabilia that began on Monday evening, especially in the Tizi Ouzhou area. Late in the afternoon, the official APS agency reported four other deaths, without specifying whether they were civilians or soldiers.
An appeal has been made on social networks to find the missing people. Twenty people were still wanted on Wednesday, according to French-language news site Tout sur l’Algerie (TSA).
3 days national mourning
Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune has declared three days of national mourning starting Thursday, according to a presidential press release. And in memory of the victims, absentee prayers will be offered on Friday in mosques across the country.
Impressive images with calls for help, charred trunks, dying cattle and village sieges circulated on social networks.
about 70 active families
According to Yousef Ould Mohamed, a local forestry official cited by the official APS agency, as Algeria is experiencing an extreme heat wave, the winds complicate the task of rescuers.
According to civil defense spokesman Nasim Barnoi, 69 fires were still active in 17 villas (the prefecture) on Wednesday, especially in Tizi Ozhou, which recorded the most human casualties.
Four people died on Wednesday in neighboring Bejaa province, APS quoted local civil defense official Letreche Hakim as saying. The latter had earlier reported the day of ‘nine major fire outbreaks’.
call for help
Since Tuesday, calls on social networks to send aid – food, water, medicine – to residents of affected villages have multiplied. Several trucks left the capital carrying equipment donated by citizens and merchants.
In France, expatriates and NGOs are mobilizing through local organizations to send equipment to disaster areas, as they did to send oxygen cylinders at the height of the Covid pandemic. -19. Paris said it was “ready to offer its support”.
The criminal trail was mentioned by the Algerian authorities who did not provide details. ‘Fifty starts of fire at the same time, it is impossible. These fires are of criminal origin,’ Interior Minister Kamel Beldjoud said on Tuesday.
Public radio announced the arrest of three “arsonists” in Medea on Tuesday. According to the APS, the fourth was arrested in Annaba.
The worst tragedy occurred on Tuesday when 28 soldiers died while evacuating villagers engulfed in flames in the mountains of Bejasa and Tizi Ozou.
The north of Algeria is affected by wildfires every year. In 2020, about 44,000 hectares of copis went up in smoke. The authorities had announced that they had arrested several perpetrators of the arson.
This phenomenon is increasing as the fire on the planet multiplies. They are associated with various events anticipated by scientists to cause global warming. Rise in temperature, increase in heat waves and fall in rainfall in places is a perfect combination.
According to various weather services, extreme heat wave is expected to continue in the Maghreb through the weekend, with temperatures reaching 46 degrees Celsius.
In neighboring Tunisia, the capital Tunis broke its all-time record with 49 degrees on Tuesday. According to Moez Tria, a spokesman for the Civil Defense, about fifteen fires were recorded in the north and northwest, with no casualties.
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