Forest fires raging in northern Algeria

0

President Abdelmadjid Tebboune decreed three days of national mourning from Thursday.

Villagers use branches to try to put out a forest fire in the village of Achallam in the mountainous Kabylia region of Tizi Ouzou, east of Algiers, Algeria, August 11, 2021 (Abdelaziz Boumzar / Reuters)

Algeria’s death toll climbed to at least 69 as firefighters, soldiers and civilian volunteers battled fires in the country’s northern forests, during the latest forest fires that swept across the Mediterranean.

President Abdelmadjid Tebboune decreed three days of national mourning from Thursday.

In an update, the state-run APS news agency said the upsurge in more than 50 fires that broke out on Tuesday left four more dead, in addition to the death toll of 65 on state television, including 28 soldiers. deployed to assist overwhelmed emergency services.

Authorities say they suspect widespread arson after so many fires broke out in such a short time. Several arrests have been announced, but the identity or presumed motives of those detained have not been disclosed.

Images of trapped villagers, terrified cattle and wooded hills reduced to blackened stumps were shared on social media, many of them accompanied by calls for help.

AFP journalists have seen villagers desperate to put out fires that are spreading with makeshift brooms to save their homes.

READ MORE:
Algeria forest fires kill dozens, suspected arson

A firefighter drinks water during a forest fire in the village of Achallam, in the mountainous region of Kabylia in Tizi Ouzou, east of Algiers, Algeria.  August 11, 2021.

A firefighter drinks water during a forest fire in the village of Achallam, in the mountainous region of Kabylia in Tizi Ouzou, east of Algiers, Algeria. August 11, 2021 (Abdelaziz Boumzar / Reuters)

‘Alarming’

High winds fueled the rapid spread of the flames under very dry conditions created by a heat wave across North Africa and the wider Mediterranean, fire chief Youcef Ould Mohamed told APS.

Dozens of separate forest fires remained active on Wednesday, spread across 17 provinces, emergency services spokesman Nassim Barnaoui told reporters.

Most of the fires and 16 of the deaths were recorded in the Tizi Ouzou district, in the Berber-majority region of Kabylie, east of the capital Algiers.

“I left all my stock in my village and I fled to Tizi Ouzou with my wife and my three children,” said Abdelhamid Boudraren, a trader from the village of Beni Yeni.

The situation was “alarming,” Letreche Hakim, head of civil protection in Béjaïa, Kabylie’s second city, told APS.

There have been more and more calls for aid convoys to be sent to the most affected neighborhoods with food and medicine from the capital.

On Wednesday, an AFP correspondent saw several trucks heading towards Tizi Ouzou with aid offered by the population.

French President Emmanuel Macron wrote on Twitter that France will send two Canadair firefighting planes and a command plane to the Kabylia region on Thursday to help.

Neighboring Morocco, with which Algeria has long had strained ties over Western Sahara, has also expressed willingness to help.

Rabat offered two Canadair planes “if the Algerian authorities agree,” according to a statement from the Moroccan foreign ministry.

Algeria is also charters two firefighting planes from the EU, planes recently used to stop fires in Greece.

Meteorologists expect the heatwave across North Africa to continue through the end of the week, with temperatures in Algeria reaching 46 degrees Celsius (115 degrees Fahrenheit).

Climate change amplifies droughts

In neighboring Tunisia to Algeria, the temperature in the capital Tunis hit a record 49 degrees Celsius (120 degrees Fahrenheit) on Tuesday.

Tunisian emergency services reported 15 fires in the north and northwest, but no casualties.

Every summer Algeria experiences seasonal wildfires, but rarely anything nearing this year’s disaster.

In 2020, nearly 440 square kilometers (170 square miles) of forest were destroyed by fire.

On Monday, the UN released a major report showing how the threat of global warming is even more acute than previously thought.

He highlighted how scientists quantify to what extent human-induced warming increases the intensity and / or likelihood of a specific extreme weather event, such as a heat wave or forest fire.

Climate change amplifies droughts, creating the ideal conditions for forest fires to spread uncontrollably and inflict unprecedented property and environmental damage.

READ MORE: The toll of forest fires in Algeria is increasing

Source: AFP


Source link

Share.

About Author

Leave A Reply