Algeria is facing an intense heat wave in some affected regions, with temperature peaks at 48 degrees on Monday, which are helping to dry out vegetation, making it more vulnerable to fire outbreaks.
At least 34 people, including ten soldiers, died in violent fires that occurred in northeastern Algeria overnight from Sunday to Monday and are still ongoing, according to a new report published by the Ministry of the Interior on Monday evening.
A previous report reported 15 dead and 26 injured following the fires that affected about fifteen wilayas (prefectures) in the northeast of the country.
Soldiers found themselves surrounded by flames as they were evacuated from Beni Ksila, in the Bejaïa prefecture, accompanied by residents of neighboring hamlets, the Ministry of Defense said.
Nearly 100 fire starts
Between Sunday and Monday, Algeria recorded 97 fire starts in 16 prefectures, but the most violent fires affected Bejaïa, Bouira and Jijel, the Interior Ministry said in a press release. Driven by very strong winds, they reached residential areas in these three prefectures where 1,500 people threatened by the flames were evacuated, according to the ministry.
Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune sent his condolences to the families, referring to “civilian victims” but also “military”.
Some 8,000 civil protection agents and 525 trucks were still hard at work on Monday evening in 11 wilayas, where fires which ravaged forests, scrubland and fields were still in progress, according to the authorities. Recently chartered fire-fighting planes and helicopters as well as a BE 200 high-capacity bomber intervened to drop water on the fires.
The Interior Ministry has called on citizens to “avoid the affected areas and use the toll-free numbers made available to make any reports” of fires.
The Attorney General of Bejaïa ordered, according to a press release, the opening of preliminary investigations to determine the causes of the fires and identify possible perpetrators
Source: BFM TV