Forest fires rage in Tunisia as temperature hits 50.3°C

Hundreds of hectares of Aleppo pine, acacia, wormwood and juniper trees have been destroyed by the fires.

As Tunisians continue to endure an intense heatwave, with the temperature in the city of Kairouan hitting a record 50.3°C on Wednesday, wildfires continue to rage in the country’s northern forests.

Fires broke out at the start of the week as temperatures soared above 48°C across the country.

A representative for the National Office for Civil Protection told Tunisian news agency TAP that 150 fires had broken out in 36 hours — 12 of them forest fires.

Four Tunisian cities were among the top 10 hottest places in the world on Tuesday.

Tunisia’s civil protection units continue to battle fires in the north-west of the country, in Jendouba, Kef and Ain Drahem.

People have been evacuated, while buildings and animal shelters have reportedly sustained major damage.

The closed military zone in Mount Mghila, in the west, has also been affected. Local media reported that hundreds of hectares of Aleppo pine, acacia, wormwood and juniper have been destroyed by the fires.

The regional director of civil protection in Jendouba said on Wednesday that although agents had managed to control the majority of the fires in the area, a new forest fire had broken out between Ain Draham and Fernana.

In a statement, the director confirmed that an evacuation was under way, that there had been significant material damage and that the situation was very serious. Photos from the area show previously lush green forests now sparse and ashen, ravaged by the flames.

Meanwhile, Tunisia reaffirmed its “full solidarity” with Algeria after massive wildfires that have ripped through the country and claimed dozens of lives.

“Tunisia is fully prepared to offer all the support needed in these urgent circumstances,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

In a telephone conversation with his Algerian counterpart Abdelmadjid Tebboune on Tuesday, President Kais Saied expressed his solidarity with the Algerian people and offered his condolences to the victims' families.

The fires follow the world's largest ever report on climate change from the UN, which said heat crises would continue. Warming across the Mediterranean will be about 20 per cent higher than global averages in the decades to come, the report said.

The assessment from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said the Mediterranean's more than half-a-billion inhabitants face “highly interconnected climate risks,” including drought, wildfires, and endangered food production. It called the region a “climate change hot spot".

Updated: August 12th 2021, 4:10 PM