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Al-Ahed Telegram

Algeria Forest Blazes: 38 Dead, 200+ Injured

Algeria Forest Blazes: 38 Dead, 200+ Injured
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By Staff, Agencies

Algerian firefighters battled Thursday to rein in forest fires that ravaged large parts of the drought-hit North African country, leaving almost 40 people dead, including 12 who died in a bus trapped by the flames.

Deadly forest fires have become an annual scourge in Algeria, where climate change is turning large areas into a tinderbox in the baking summer months.

Some residents lost homes to the flames, and authorities were accused of being ill-prepared, with few firefighting aircraft available despite record casualties in last year's blazes.

The country's justice ministry launched an inquiry after Algerian Interior Minister Kamel Beldjoud suggested some of the fires were deliberately set.

At least 38 people have died, including more than 10 children, according to multiple sources.

Most were in the El Tarf region near Algeria's eastern border with Tunisia, an area sweltering in 118 degrees Fahrenheit heat.

At least 200 more people suffered burns or respiratory problems, according to various Algerian media. Algerian television showed people fleeing burning homes, and women carrying children in their arms.

A journalist in El Tarf described "scenes of devastation" on the road to El Kala, a northeastern seaport. "A tornado of fire swept everything away in seconds," he told AFP by telephone.

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