At least 26 people have died and dozens have been injured in forest fires in northern Algeria, Algerian Interior Minister Kamel Beldjoud announced on Wednesday.
“26 people have died: two in Setif (department) and 24 in El Tarf”, near the border with Tunisia, the minister announced on television. A previous balance gave part of 2 dead and several wounded.
Among the wounded, the latest balance of Civil Protection wounded detailed that there were 41 people with respiratory difficulties and four, with burns of varying degrees, in Souk Ahras, a city bordering Tunisia.
Several roads were closed and the flames burned near some cities in the country, according to media reports, while authorities deployed helicopters to try to contain the fires.
The local media showed impressive images in which the inhabitants were seen fleeing their homes before the arrival of the fire in Souk Ahras, from where some 350 inhabitants were evacuated, according to the same source.
“There are 39 active fires in 14 wilayas (prefectures),” said Civil Protection, specifying that the El Tarf wilaya registers the highest number of fires with 16 fires, including a good number still ongoing.
With the 26 deaths on Wednesday, the balance for the summer of 2022 amounts to 30 deaths.
Since the beginning of August, 106 fires have broken out, destroying 800 hectares of forest and 1,800 hectares of scrubland, said the Interior Minister, noting that “some are caused.”
Algeria, the largest country in Africa, has only 4.1 million hectares of forest, with a meager reforestation rate of 1.76%.
The summer of 2021 has so far been the deadliest in the country. At least 90 people died in the forest fires that devastated the north of the country, where more than 100,000 hectares of forest disappeared.
Global warming increases the probability of heat waves and droughts and, in turn, fires. Forest fires in Algeria are getting worse every year.