(Algeria) – Firefighters, soldiers and volunteers continue, on Saturday, to extinguish the recent forest fires sweeping northern Algeria, which have claimed the lives of about 90 people since Monday, including 33 soldiers, according to reports from local authorities.
According to Algerian leaders, most of these fires are of “criminal” origin and the perpetrators have been arrested.
However, experts and witnesses point out the lack of anticipation of the public authorities and their prevention from facing a phenomenon that is repeated every year in Algeria.
In addition, these wildfires are currently intensifying due to the intense heat.
On Saturday, the Ministry of Defense organized two ceremonies to honor 33 soldiers who were killed in the fire, one in the military hospital in Algiers, in the presence of Chief of Staff Said Chanegriha, and the other in Constantine (northeast).
Major General Boualem Madi, Director of Defense Communications, said during a funeral ceremony on the third and final day of national mourning that “these heroes sacrificed their lives for the sake of the homeland and to save their fellow citizens from arson in different regions of our country.” .
On Saturday, President Abdelmadjid Tebboune visited the wounded civilians and soldiers, who are being treated in the capital, Algiers, promising them to implement all the necessary means to care for them.
In the absence of a new official global report, reports by local authorities, civil protection and the Ministry of Defense show a total of about 90 deaths since Monday.
Civil protection reported “42 ongoing fires in 15 states”, including 14 in Tizi Ouzou and 7 in Bejaia, in Kabylie, the worst-affected region. “Nine fires have been brought under control in four states,” the same source said in a tweet on Twitter.
One hundred fires were identified Thursday across the country.
The Civil Protection said that the helicopters of the Air Group of Civil Protection and the army carried out 235 water bombardments, not to mention 172 water bombardments in Tizi Ouzou, Bejaia and Jijel.
Two French water bombers – supplied by Paris via the European Union – as well as a communication aircraft, intervened extensively on Thursday and Friday in the Kabylie region.
A Spanish water bomber arrived on Saturday and a second launcher is expected within the next few hours, according to the official APS news agency.
Tebboune said that a third package should be deployed near Switzerland.
43 homes in 20 counties have been extinguished in the past 24 hours.
Approximately 7,500 civil protection personnel were deployed with 490 fire trucks and three helicopters.
The army also mobilized five Russian-origin MI-26 heavy helicopters.
According to the Mena Defense specialized website, the Algerian army intends to purchase eight Russian Beriev Be-200 water-propelled grenades. Local media reported that three of them were due to arrive in Algiers on Saturday.
Russia has offered to make four sea-bomber aircraft available to Algeria, according to the APS, which explains that “due to the lack of overflight permits from Greece and Cyprus,” their arrival was delayed. They should reach the site “within the next few hours”.
In the face of tragedy, gestures of solidarity from civil society are manifesting on the ground and international aid is organised.
“We get help from everywhere. I saw trucks and vans from all over Algeria,” said an enthusiastic young volunteer, reported the French-speaking daily Liberte.
Weather services are forecasting temperatures of up to 48 degrees in a country already experiencing water stress.
The largest country in Africa, Algeria has only 4.1 million hectares of forest, with a negligible reforestation rate of 1.76%.
Every year, the north of the country is affected by forest fires. In 2020, nearly 44,000 hectares of wage were emitted.
The fires that are increasing all over the world are linked to various phenomena that scientists expect due to global warming.
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