Algerian teenager killed saving dozens of children from forest fire

Dunya Bouhlasa helped rescue 68 children who were at a scout camp in Al Tarif

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Funeral processions have been held for Algerian woman Dunya Bouhlasa who died after rescuing children from forest fires that have killed at least 40 people over the past few weeks.

Bouhlasa helped 68 children who were at a scouts camp to safety from the flames, the Constantine Provincial People's Assembly said in a statement on Tuesday. No more details were provided about the incident.

The 19-year-old was a leader with the Algerian Muslim Scouts in the state of Al Tarif, according to a statement posted by the scouts on Facebook.

Algeria's Minister of Youth and Sport Abdel-Razzaq Sebgag offered his condolences to Bouhlasa’s friends and family.

تغطية قناة النهار لجنازة القائدة #دنيا_بوحلاسة إنا لله و انا اليه راجعون

Posted by ‎Scout constantine الكشافة الإسلامية الجزائرية محافظة قسنطينة‎ on Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Bouhlasa was severely injured by the fire, authorities said, and she was transferred to a military hospital for treatment but died shortly afterwards.

The death toll continues to mount from wildfires which have spread across 14 administrative councils in northern parts of the country.

The number of casualties is expected to rise, officials said.

The fires have become a yearly occurrence in Algeria, primarily due to soaring temperatures as a result of climate change.

However, Interior Minister Kamel Beldjoud said some of the fires were man-made.

Mr Beldjoud said some of more than 106 fires in the country since the beginning of August had been started intentionally.

Last year, at least 90 people died in forest fires that ravaged northern areas, destroying more than 100,000 hectares of woodland.

Some of the country's most precious natural reserves and livestock have also been affected.

The UN recognised Algeria's El Kala National Park and Biosphere Reserve in 1990 for being a “mosaic of marine, dune, lake and forest ecosystems”.

But officials say 13 per cent of the park has been destroyed by fire.

At least 1,000 families have been evacuated from their homes because of this year’s fires, the government said earlier this week.

Last year, wildfires claimed 90 lives.

Updated: August 24, 2022, 12:47 PM
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