These forest fires killed at least 38 people.

This Thursday, Algerian firefighters are trying to control the last fires in the north and far east of the country amid "scenes of desolation", the day after violent blazes.

The death toll from the fires of recent days has increased with 30 dead in the area of ​​El Tarf, in the far east, near the border with Tunisia.

But also five dead in Souk Ahras, two women in Sétif and one person in Guelma, in the east, according to civil protection, local journalists and Ennahar television.

In addition, more than 200 people were injured, according to local media.

On the road to El Kala, near El Tarf, a town of 100,000, "a tornado of fire took everything away in seconds, most of the dead were surrounded while visiting an animal park", described a local journalist.

An unfavorable wind

Of the 39 fires that ravaged 14 wilayas (departments) in the north of the country, a certain number were still in progress on Thursday and the authorities fear fire starts due to gusts of wind.

Water bomber helicopters from civil protection and the army intervened in several towns.

Algeria has chartered a Russian Beriev BE 200 water bomber plane, but after responding to various fires, it suffered a breakdown and will not be operational again until Saturday, the interior minister said. , Kamel Beldjoud, Wednesday evening.

Prime Minister Ayman Benabderrahmane arrived in El Tarf on Thursday morning, according to television.

The gendarmerie has closed several national roads because of the fires.

panic scenes

In Souk Ahras, near the Tunisian border, a major fire was still going on Thursday morning in the mountainous area of ​​Djebel Oued Chouk, according to a local journalist.

He spoke of scenes of panic on Wednesday in this city of 500,000 inhabitants.

According to this journalist, 97 women and 17 newborns who were in a hospital near a forest area had to be evacuated.

Television footage showed residents running from their burning homes, women carrying their children in their arms.

More than 350 families had to leave their homes.

The impulse of global warming

Each year, the north of Algeria is affected by forest fires, but this phenomenon is accentuated from year to year under the effect of climate change.

It was around 48 degrees on Wednesday in El Tarf, Guelma and Souk Ahras.

The summer of 2021 was the deadliest since Algerian independence: at least 90 people died in forest fires that ravaged the North, where more than 100,000 hectares of copses went up in smoke.

Global warming increases the likelihood of heat waves and droughts and, by extension, fires.

Since the beginning of August, 106 fires have broken out in Algeria, destroying 800 hectares of forest and 1,800 hectares of coppice, said the Minister of the Interior.

These fires rekindle wounds and the debate on the absence of water bomber planes in sufficient numbers, which had already agitated the country last summer after deadly fires.

Too little equipment

During an Algerian-Canadian seminar on the fight against forest fires, specialists had recommended in May “the establishment of a national system of fight at least equivalent to that which existed in the 1980s!

“, indicated on condition of anonymity an expert who participated in the departure.

At the time, "the DTA (aerial work directorate) had 22 Grumman-type aircraft which were the pride of Algeria, particularly in the fight against forest fires", added the expert, according to whom the devices "were sold at the symbolic dinar without any alternative solution being offered".

“Some of these fires were caused,” he added.


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