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'We lost everything': survivors of Algeria fires in shock

A man looks at the aftermath of a raging wildfire, in Bouira, 100 km from Algiers, Algeria, Monday, July 24, 2023.   -  
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Fires raging through forests, mountain villages and towns in northern Algeria have left at least 34 people dead, with 23 of them in the coastal region of Bejaia and its surroundings, according to authorities.

The majority of the blazes , which started Sunday, have now been put out, according to local reports.

But the horrors of the past few days around worst affected region are just emerging.

Locals here in this coastal region, 250km east of capital Algiers sit in shock outside their homes and businesses.

This once lively roadside restaurant lies gutted by the wildfires that spread over the hillsides around the commune of Oued Das.

Several burnt out cars lie overturned on a highway, caught by the racing flames. Locals say 3 families racing to get away from the flames died trapped inside. 16 men, women and children.

Among those killed in hard-hit Bejaia were 10 soldiers encircled by flames during an evacuation, the Defence Ministry reported Monday night.

The local government has despatched medical teams and mental health support to aid the traumatised residents.

Local media reported investigations were opened.

In neighbouring Tunisia, the official TAP news agency reported one death, a school principal who died of asphyxiation from a fire in Nafza, in the northwest. That was one of several areas in Tunisia's northwest where firefighters battled flames devouring forests and citrus and hazelnut groves as scorching heat made nations on the Mediterranean increasingly vulnerable to wildfires

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