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Algeria: death toll from fires in several cities rises to 26

"Twenty-six people died: two in Sétif (east) and 24 in El Tarf (east)", near the border with Tunisia, Interior Minister Kamel Beldjoud announced during the 8 p.

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Algeria: death toll from fires in several cities rises to 26

"Twenty-six people died: two in Sétif (east) and 24 in El Tarf (east)", near the border with Tunisia, Interior Minister Kamel Beldjoud announced during the 8 p.m. GMT).

Several people suffer from burns or breathing difficulties but no new official figures have been given on the number of injured.

A previous report from civil protection reported four people burned to varying degrees and 41 others suffering from breathing difficulties in Souk Ahras, another town bordering Tunisia.

Impressive television images show residents of this city fleeing their homes in the face of flames.

According to local media, more than 350 families have fled their homes in Souk Ahras.

The gendarmerie closed several roads because of the fires.

"Thirty-nine fires in 14 wilayas (prefectures) are in progress", had indicated in the afternoon the civil protection, by specifying that the wilaya of El Tarf recorded the greatest number of fires with 16 fires, of which a good number still in progress.

According to private television Ennahar, around fifty people are hospitalized in El Tarf, a city of around 100,000 inhabitants.

Water bomber helicopters intervened in three prefectures including Souk Ahras, a locality of around 500,000 inhabitants. Those of civil protection are supported by army helicopters.

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, according to Mr. Beldjoud.

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

- Cancellation of contract -

According to the Mena Defense site, following their falling out with Spain, the Algerian authorities canceled a contract with the Spanish company Plysa, a specialized subsidiary of the airline Air Nostrum, for the supply of seven water bomber planes.

At the end of June, Algeria suspended a "treaty of friendship, good neighborliness and cooperation" concluded in 2002 with Spain, after Madrid's reversal on the Western Sahara file to align itself with Morocco's position. .

No plan B has been planned to replace all of these Spanish planes, according to various media.

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.

"Some of these fires are caused," Beldjoud said.

With the 26 dead on Wednesday, the balance sheet for the summer of 2022 climbs to 30 dead.

The largest country in Africa, Algeria has only 4.1 million hectares of forest, with a meager reforestation rate of 1.76%.

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

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

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

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