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North Africa: Dozens of People Killed in Algeria Wildfires, Many Displaced

Harare — More than 30 people have been killed in wildfires in Algeria. Among the dead are 10 troops who were combating the blaze. Hundreds of residents have been forced to flee their homes along the country’s Mediterranean coast, Al Jazeera reports.

The deaths were reported on Monday, July 24, 2023 when some areas of the North African nation had temperatures of 48 degrees Celsius (118 degrees Fahrenheit).

According to Algeria’s interior ministry, 97 fires spread over 16 provinces and were exacerbated by ferocious winds and scorching temperatures.

The ministry, according to the report, revised an initial death toll of 15 victims to at least 34, and at least 26 others sustained injuries as the fires tore through residential areas.

According to the ministry, the flames drove over 1,500 residents of the provinces of Bejaia, Bouira, and Jijel to flee to areas east of the capital Algiers. The three provinces along the Mediterranean coast of Algeria have experienced the worst flames.

President Abdelmadjid Tebboune expressed his condolences to the relatives of civilians and security force members who lost their lives.

Efforts are being made to extinguish fires in six provinces. The ministry has urged residents to “avoid areas affected by the fires” and to report any new fires via toll-free phone lines.

According to a statement from the Bejaia prosecutor’s office, a preliminary investigation has been ordered to determine the cause of the fires and any potential culprits.

While flames in the summer are nothing new for Algeria, this year’s outbreaks have been made worse by a heatwave that has seen numerous Mediterranean nations set record high temperatures.

Aside from the Mediterranean, according to WMO, other regions of the world are also experiencing high temperatures, including the southern U.S., where Arizona’s temperatures might hit 120 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition, the heatwave afflicting southern Europe is connected to the one presently ravaging North Africa’s Algeria and Morocco.

Extreme weather events, such as heatwaves, floods, and wildfires, are becoming more common and fatal due to the human-caused climate catastrophe. The world’s lowest-income countries are already experiencing disproportionate increases in extreme heat. Although they are the least to blame for climate change, these nations will see a significant increase in the number of at-risk people in the coming decades.

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