Algeria’s Berber Region Wildfires Have Claimed Up To 65 Lives, The Country Is In Mourning

ALGIERS, Algeria — The death toll from flames raging through Algeria’s Berber region climbed to 65 people on Wednesday, including 28 troops, as the president proclaimed a three-day mourning period to remember the victims.

The number of victims has risen to 45, up from 42 on Tuesday, including 25 troops, according to the Civil Protection Authority.

President Abdelmadjid Tebboune said that his North African country would enter a three-day mourning period beginning Thursday, stopping all official activities save for acts of solidarity.

On Monday, dozens of flames engulfed wooded mountainsides in the Berber area of Kabyle, east of Algiers, the capital, burning homes, olive tree plantations, and animals that supply the region’s livelihood.

According to the forestry director in Tizi-Ouzou, the regional capital, 18 fires are still burning in the area. Hundreds of flames raged across the north, but the deadliest was centered in Kabyle.

French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted on Wednesday that France will deploy two water-dumping planes and a third command plane to Kabyle. There are currently no such planes in the remote area. Macron stated that they will be deployed on Thursday and that “our solidarity is unconditional.”

There was no official explanation for a large number of troops killed, but images in Algerian media showed men in army fatigues without proper firefighting gear.

Despite a heatwave and strong winds fueling the flames, both the prime minister and the interior minister indicated Tuesday that arson was suspected in the Kabyle fires.

Citizens, primarily teenagers, are assisting in the supply of residents in need, and “solidarity caravans” are on their way to Tizi-Ouzou, according to the online news source TSA.

North Africa, like southern Europe, has been scorched by scorching temperatures, especially in neighboring Tunisia, where isolated fires have been recorded in the east. High temperatures are forecast in over a dozen ways, or regions, including Tizi-Ouzou, according to Algeria’s National Meteorology Office. The temperature was expected to reach 47 degrees Celsius in some areas (116 degrees Fahrenheit).

Heatwaves, droughts, wildfires, floods, and storms are all being exacerbated by climate change caused by the combustion of coal, oil, and natural gas, according to climate experts. Drought and heat, both connected to climate change, are fueling wildfires in the western United States and Russia’s Siberia region. Massive flames are also being fueled by extreme temperatures in Greece and Turkey.

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