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Wildfires kill 34 in Algeria as heatwave sweeps across north Africa

Wildfires kill 34 in Algeria as heatwave sweeps across north Africa
A forest fire burns near the village of Zberber, Bouira province in the mountainous Kabyle region, Algeria, 24 July 2023. The Algerian Ministry of the Interior announced the death of 24 civilians, 10 victims of the National Army and 26 injured. EPA-EFE/STR

The death toll as wildfires sweep across regions of Algeria has risen to 34 people, including 10 soldiers, on Monday, the interior ministry said, as a heatwave spreads across north Africa and southern Europe.

About 8,000 firefighters were battling to bring the flames under control, authorities said.

The interior ministry said that it is continuing its firefighting operations in the Boumerdes, Bouira, Tizi Ouzou, Jijel, Bejaia and Skikda regions.

About 1,500 people have been evacuated so far.

The authorities have launched a judicial investigation into the causes of the fires.

A major heat wave is sweeping across north Africa, with temperatures of 49°C recorded in some cities in neighbouring Tunisia.

In Tunisia, wildfires swept through the border town of Melloula. Witnesses told Reuters that fires that had begun in mountainous areas had reached some people’s homes in the town and forced hundreds of families to flee.

A civil protection official said that they had evacuated hundreds of the town’s residents by land and by sea, in fishermen’s boats and coastguard vessels.

(Reporting by Lamine Chikhi, Jana Choukeir, and Nayera Abdalla; Writing by Tarek Amara; Editing by Bernadette Baum, Nick Macfie and Hugh Lawson.)

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