SULAIMANI (ESTA) — At least 65 people, 28 of them soldiers deployed as relief firefighters, have been killed as dozens of wildfires raged for a second day in Algeria Wednesday, state television reported.
“The death toll from the forest fires has climbed to 65 dead – 28 soldiers and 37 civilians – most of them in Tizi Ouzou district” east of the capital, it said, according to AFP.
Another 12 soldiers were “in hospital in a critical condition”, the television added, following the latest wildfires to hit the Mediterranean this summer.
On Tuesday the government said at least 42 people had died, including 25 soldiers who had been deployed to fight the fires that were burning most strongly in the mountainous Kabylie region.
Dozens of separate fires have raged through forest areas across northern Algeria since Monday night and Interior Minister Kamel Beldjoud accused arsonists of igniting the flames, Reuters reported.
Last week, a European Union atmosphere monitor said the Mediterranean had become a wildfire hotspot as massive blazes engulfed forests in Turkey and Greece, aided by a heatwave.
Several houses were burnt as families were escaping to hotels, youth hostels and university residences, witnesses said, adding that a dense smoke hampered the visibility of fire crews.
Smaller fires have ravaged forests in at least 16 provinces of the North African country since Monday night.