El Qala: Firefighters in Algeria were battling a series of blazes on Thursday fueled by a drought and a ferocious heatwave. has become a disaster.

Multiple sources, including local journalists and the fire department, said at least 38 people had died, mostly in the El Tarf region of eastern Algeria, near the Tunisia border, which had been scorched by the 48-degree Celsius heat. At least 200 people have suffered smoke burns and respiratory problems, according to various Algerian media outlets.

A journalist from El Tarf described a “disaster” on the way to El Qala in the northeast of the country. “A fire tornado wiped everything out in seconds,” he told AFP by phone. “Most of those who died were surrounded while visiting wildlife parks.” Rescuers were still fighting blazes around Lake Tonga, he said.

An AFP team in Elcala reported smelling strong smoke and said officials were concerned that strong winds could spark new fires. Witnesses, who requested anonymity, said 12 people in the bus were burned as they tried to escape. Several roads in the area were closed. State TV reported on Thursday morning that Prime Minister Ayman Benabderaman was visiting the region.

Firefighters were also fighting a large fire in the mountainous area of ​​Souk Ahras, a journalist from the area told AFP. He described a scene of panic in a city of 500,000, where about 100 women and her 17 newborn babies had to be evacuated from a hospital near the forest. Algerian television showed people fleeing a burning house and a woman holding a child in her arms. Local media said 350 people had fled their homes.

lack of aircraft

About 39 blazes have ravaged various parts of northern Algeria, according to the fire department, and there were concerns that hot winds could spark new blazes that authorities were ill-equipped to fight. The scene sparked fears of a resurgence of fires last year that killed at least 90 people and destroyed 100,000 hectares of forest and farmland in his north.

Last year’s catastrophe sparked harsh criticism from authorities over the lack of firefighting aircraft. Authorities have rented a Russian Beriev BE 200 seaplane, which has suffered a malfunction and is not expected to be operational again until Saturday, Interior Minister Kamel Berjod said. Civil Protection Services and the military have access to several fire helicopters.

Experts call for a major effort to strengthen the firefighting capacity of Africa’s largest country, with more than 4 million hectares of forest. An expert, who requested anonymity, told AFP that in the 1980s the company had 22 Grumman aircraft to fight forest fires, but they were “sold cheaply with no alternatives offered.” It was done,” he said.

Algeria had agreed to buy seven firefighting aircraft from Spanish firm Plysa but canceled the deal in late June following a diplomatic dispute over Western Sahara, according to the expert website Mena Defense. tells us. Since early August, 106 fires have broken out in Algeria, destroying 800 hectares of forest and 1,800 hectares of woodlands.-AFP

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