Five Feared Dead as Wildfires Rage Across Algeria

Not less than five people have died in raging wildfires across Algeria as firefighters battle more than 31 blazes amid blistering temperatures and tinder-dry conditions, officials said on Tuesday.

Photographs posted on social media show huge walls of flame and billowing clouds of smoke towering over villages in the forested hills of the Kabylie region, east of the capital Algiers.

Algeria is the latest Mediterranean country to be hit by wildfires after blazes hit Greece, Turkey, and Cyprus.

Meteorologists said the temperature would hit 46 degrees Celsius (115 degrees Fahrenheit) on Tuesday, and the country is also struggling with severe water shortages.

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Fires were reported in multiple locations in 14 districts, 10 of them around Tizi Ouzou, one of the most populous cities in Kabylie.

Forestry officer, Youcef Ould Mohamed disclosed that two people died in Ait-Yenni, one in Yakourene, and another near Azazga, another person died in a fire near Tizi Ouzou.

Major fires were also reported in Jijel, Bejaia, Bouira, Guelma, Khenchela and Setif. Arson has been blamed for several major fires in recent years.

Last month, President Abdelmadjid Tebboune ordered a bill to stiffen punishments for starting a forest fire, with sentences of up to 30 years in prison and possible life imprisonment, if the fire results in death.

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In July, three people were arrested on suspicion of starting fires that devastated 15 square kilometers (six square miles) of forest in the Aures mountains.

In 2020, nearly 440 square kilometers (170 square miles) of forest were destroyed by fire, and several people were arrested on suspicion of arson.

On Monday, the UN released a major report showing how the threat from global warming is even more acute than previously thought.

It highlighted how scientists are quantifying the extent to which human-induced warming increases the intensity and/or likelihood of a specific extreme weather event, such as a heatwave or a wildfire.

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