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Algeria: Funerals of wildfire victims take place

Mourners of Algeria's wildfire victims in the north-east Kabylia region, on 26 July.   -  
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In Algeria's north-east, funerals for the 34 victims of recent wildfires were held on Wednesday.

Accompanied by a crowd of mourners, the families of the victims buried their loved ones in Beni Douala, near Tizi Ouzou, 110 km to the east of Alger. The victims' coffins were draped with the Algerian flag.

The fires which started Sunday and burnt until Wednesday, devastated the Kabylia region in the north-east of the country on the Mediterranean coast. 

In addition to the 34 mortalities, 80 people were injured and more than 1500 evacuated from their homes. 

The fires were fuelled by drought and intense heat, with temperatures reaching up to 48 degrees Celsius. 

Emergency response

Some witnesses deplored the emergency services' slow response and a lack of equipment. 

"The local population played a crucial role in preventing some of the outbreaks from spreading. We used plastic buckets filled from a volunteer's truck and climbed into the forest to fight the flames," says Mohammed Said Omal, a volunteer.

According to the authorities, the fires were brought under control by a dozen water-bombing planes and helicopters, aided also by lower temperatures and winds. 

More than 8,000 Civil Protection agents and 525 trucks were mobilized.

Minister of the Interior, Brahim Merad, announced on Wednesday the creation of a commission to speed up compensation for victims, assuring that "all the fires have been extinguished".

Annual wildfires

Algeria's north and east regions are hit by forest fires each summer, a phenomenon accentuated year after year by the effects of climate change, leading to droughts and heatwaves.

In August 2022, huge fires caused the deaths of 37 people in the El Tarf region, in the north-east. 

In 2021, more than 90 people were killed in the north, particularly in Kabylia.

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