42 people including 25 members of the military mobilised to help put out raging blaze, were killed in forest fires in Algeria on Tuesday, August 10.
Dozens of separate fires have raged through forest areas across northern Algeria since Monday night and the country’s Interior Minister Kamel Beldjoud accused arsonists of igniting the flames, without providing more details on the allegations.
Soldiers were killed in different areas, some while trying to extinguish the flames and others after they were cut off by the spreading fire, Kabylie residents said. The Defense Ministry said more soldiers had been badly injured with burns.
Several houses were burnt as families were escaping to hotels, youth hostels and university residences, witnesses said, adding that a dense smoke hampered the visibility of fire crews.
“Only criminal hands can be behind the simultaneous outbreak of about 50 fires across several localities,” he said.
“We had a horror night. My house is completely burnt,” said Mohamed Kaci, who had fled with his family from the village of Azazga to a hotel.
Speaking on state television on Tuesday night, Prime Minister Ayman Benabderrahmane said the death toll had risen to 42, including 25 members of the military. The government was in “advanced talks with (foreign) partners to hire planes and help speed up the process of extinguishing fires,” he added.
Firefighters and the army were still trying to contain the blazes, and Beldjoud said the priority was to avoid more victims. He vowed to compensate those affected.
According to reports, smaller fires have ravaged forests in at least 16 provinces of the North African country since Monday night.