Algerian forest fires that killed 38 brought under control

Death toll includes 12 people who died when a bus was engulfed in flames

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Forest fires in Algeria that killed at least 38 people have been brought under control, officials have said.

Firefighters on Thursday extinguished a string of blazes, with more than 100 wildfires reported this month.

Victims included 12 people who died in a bus that was trapped by flames.

Wildfires are frequent during this time of the year in Algeria.

Climate change has caused summer temperatures to reach 48°C degrees Celsius in some areas.

These include the north-eastern province of El Tarf, on the border with Tunisia, where most of the casualties were recorded.

About 350 people there were moved to safety, with 50 people taken to hospital in El Tarf city, which has a population of about 100,000, Ennahar TV reported.

At least 200 people suffered from burns or respiratory issues as a result of this week's fires, Algerian media reported.

Algeria's fire service says it deployed 1,700 personnel fight the flames in various areas.

Civilians were involved in the effort too.

An animal park worker said staff there had helped families to safety as the flames closed in.

“We had to wait three hours for the help to arrive,” Hakim Bouachiha, a security worker, said.

Farmers said some of their livestock were killed by the flames.

“My livestock are lost, as is the food for them. I'm not telling you about the other things I lost but I lost everything. Really, I have nothing left,” local farmer Ali Gharsi said.

Prime Minister Aimene Benabderrahmane said most of the victims were “vacationers who came to enjoy the paradisiacal beaches and enchanting landscapes” of the country.

The government will help support those who have lost loved ones and sources of livelihood, an official said.

Last year, fires killed at least 90 people and destroyed some 100,000 hectares of forest in farmland in northern Algeria.

Updated: August 19, 2022, 9:01 AM
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