“Tornado of fire”: forest fires in Algeria kill 38 – Region – World

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A photo taken from UGC footage shows smoke billowing from a large fire raging on the side of a road leading to the town of Souarekh in Algeria’s El Tarf province on August 17, 2022. AFP

Deadly wildfires have become an annual scourge in the North African country, where climate change is turning large areas into a powder keg.

According to multiple sources, including local journalists and firefighters, at least 38 people were killed, mostly in the region of El Tarf, near Algeria’s eastern border with Tunisia, which was baking in 48-degree heat Celsius (118 Fahrenheit).

At least 200 other people suffered burns or respiratory problems from the smoke, according to various Algerian media.

A journalist from El Tarf described “scenes of devastation” on the road to El Kala in the far northeast of the country.

“A tornado of fire swept everything away in seconds,” he told AFP by phone. “Most of those who died were surrounded while visiting a wildlife park.”

Emergency services are still battling a fire around Lake Tonga, he said.

Local media reported that eight people were burned to death on a bus near the town of 100,000.

State television reported Thursday morning that Prime Minister Ayman Benabderrahmane was visiting the region.

Firefighters were also fighting a major fire in the mountainous region of Souk Ahras, a local journalist told AFP.

He described scenes of panic in the city of half a million, where nearly 100 women and 17 newborn babies had to be evacuated from a hospital near the forest.

Algerian television showed people fleeing their burning homes, women carrying children in their arms. Local media said 350 people had fled their homes.

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