At Least 42 Dead In Algeria Wildfires

At Least 42 Dead In Algeria Wildfires

At least 42 people were killed in wildfires that took place in Algeria's Kabylie region on Tuesday.

The dead include 25 soldiers who were deployed to put out the devastating blaze.

The wildfire has been raging since Monday night across northern Algeria.

Meanwhile, interior Minister Kamel Beldjoud accused arsonists of igniting the flames, without providing more details on the allegations.

"Only criminal hands can be behind the simultaneous outbreak of about 50 fires across several localities," he said.

Last week, a European Union atmosphere monitor said the Mediterranean had become a wildfire hotspot as massive blazes engulfed forests in Turkey and Greece, aided by a heatwave.

In a bid to somehow control the fires, residents of the area used tree branches to smother burning patches of forest or hurled water from plastic containers but to no avail.

The soldiers were killed in different areas, some while trying to extinguish the flames and others after they were cut off by the spreading fire. The Defence Ministry said more soldiers had been badly injured with burns.

Several houses were burnt as families were escaping to hotels, youth hostels and university residences.

"We had a horror night. My house is completely burnt," one of the witnesses said as quoted by Reuters.

Speaking on state television on Tuesday night, Prime Minister Ayman Benabderrahmane said the death toll had risen to 42, including 25 members of the military.

The government was in "advanced talks with (foreign) partners to hire planes and help speed up the process of extinguishing fires," he added.

He also vowed to compensate those affected.

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