Death toll rises in Algeria as dozens of forest fires continue to burn

Wildfires ravaging forested areas in northern Algeria have killed at least 65 people, state television reported Wednesday, as some of the most destructive fires in the country’s history continue.

The government has deployed the army to help fight the fires, which have raged most ferociously in the Kabylie mountain region, with 28 of the dead being soldiers, and another 12 seriously injured by burns.

President Abdelmadjid Tebboune declared three days of national mourning for the dead and froze state activities unrelated to the fires.

Wildfires have set much of Algeria, Turkey and Greece ablaze over the past week and a European Union atmosphere monitor said the Mediterranean had become a hotbed of wildfires thanks to increasingly hot weather.

Dozens of separate fires have ravaged forest areas in northern Algeria since Monday and Interior Minister Kamel Beldjoud on Tuesday accused the arsonists of lighting the flames, without providing any evidence.

The worst affected area has been Tizi Ouzou, the largest district in the Kabylie region, where houses were burned down and residents fled to take refuge in hotels, hostels and university accommodation in nearby towns.

The government has said it will compensate those affected.

(REUTERS)

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