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Destructive wildfires leave at least 65 dead in northern Algeria

wildfires-tizi-ouzu-kabylie-algeria-august-2021

Algerian authorities are reporting at least 65 lives were lost in wildfires raging through the mountainous region in the country's north over the past couple of days. ​As many as 50 fires broke out in a short period of time and spread rapidly due to high winds, very hot temperatures, and tinder-dry conditions.

The deaths occurred around Tizi-Ouzou, capital of the Kabyle region, located about 100 km (62 miles) E of Algiers, and in Bejaia, on the Mediterranean coast.

President Abdelmadjid Tebboune said 28 were soldiers deployed to help fight the fires and rescue villagers. Tebboune said soldiers saved more than 100 citizens in two areas, adding that some villagers were fleeing, while others tried to hold back the flames themselves, using buckets, branches, and rudimentary tools.1

According to Algerian Prime Minister Ayman Benabderrahmane, 50 fires broke out simultaneously across several localities, suggesting this was a criminal act.2

Several arrests have been announced, but identities or suspected motives have not been released.

Since the region has no water-dumping aircraft, authorities hired two firefighting planes, previously used to battle fires in Greece. Neighboring countries also offered help.

As of Wednesday, August 11, 69 separate wildfires remained active across 17 provinces, with most of them in the Tizi Ouzou district.3

Extreme heatwave conditions are expected to last through the end of the week.

References

1 At least 65 killed in Algerian wildfires – state TV – Reuters

2 Algeria wildfires: At least 65 people killed as blazes ravage forests and villages east of the capital – Sky News

3 Algerian wildfire survivors call for help, mourn 65 deaths – Daily Sabah

Featured image credit: Aya

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