More than 30 people have been murdered in wildfires burning throughout Algeria, including 10 troops who were combating the fires, while hundreds of residents have been forced to flee their homes along the country’s Mediterranean coast.
The deaths were reported on Monday, when some areas of the North African nation experienced temperatures of 48 degrees Celsius (118 degrees Fahrenheit).
According to the interior ministry of Algeria, 97 fires spread across 16 provinces and were exacerbated by ferocious winds and scorching heat.
The ministry revised an initial death toll of 15 victims to at least 34, including 10 soldiers, as the fires tore through residential districts.
That original count indicated that at least 26 people were hurt as well.
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.
Authorities reported that over 7,500 firefighters and 350 trucks, assisted by aircraft support, were struggling to put out the fires across the nation, particularly in the Boumerdes, Tizi Ouzou, Jijel, and Skikda regions.
According to the interior ministry, efforts were being made to put out fires in six provinces. The ministry urged residents to “avoid areas affected by the fires” and to report any new fires via toll-free phone lines.
It continued, “Civil protection services remain mobilized until the fires are completely out.”
According to a statement from the Bejaia prosecutor’s office, a preliminary investigation has been ordered to determine the origins of the fires and any potential offenders.
Images released by the local media revealed the area’s burning farms and forests in addition to scorched cars and burned-out stores.
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.
On Monday, temperatures in neighboring Tunisia were very close to 50C (122F).
After another fire broke out nearby last week, flames erupted once more in a Tunisian pine forest close to the Algerian border. According to the national guard, at least 300 residents of the village of Melloula were evacuated by water and land.
Temperatures in certain other North African nations, such Morocco and Libya, were comparatively typical when compared to yearly norms.
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned of increased heatwaves, crop failures, droughts, rising seas, and influxes of alien species, ranking the Mediterranean region as a “hot spot” for climate change.