38 Injured & 200 Plus Injured in Massive Fire in Algeria

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Algerian firefighters were Thursday battling a string of blazes, fanned by drought and a blistering heatwave, that have killed at least 38 people and left destruction in their wake. Deadly forest fires have become an annual scourge in the North African country, where climate change is turning large areas into a tinderbox. According to multiple sources including local journalists and the fire service, at least 38 people have been killed, mostly in the El Tarf region near Algeria’s eastern border with Tunisia which was baking in 48 degrees Celsius (118 Fahrenheit) heat. At least 200 more people have suffered burns or respiratory problems from the smoke, according to various Algerian media.

A journalist in El Tarf described “scenes of devastation” on the road to El Kala in the country’s far north-east. “A tornado of fire swept everything away in seconds,” he told AFP by telephone. “Most of those who died were surrounded while visiting a wildlife park.” Emergency services were still battling a blaze around Tonga lake, he said. Local media reported that eight people had been burned to death in a bus near the city of 100,000 residents. State television reported Thursday morning that Prime Minister Ayman Benabderrahmane was visiting the area. Firefighters were also battling a large blaze in the mountainous area of Souk Ahras, a journalist in the area told AFP. He described scenes of panic in the city of half a million, where nearly 100 women and 17 newborn babies had to be evacuated from a hospital near the forest. Algerian TV showed people fleeing their burning homes, women carrying children in their arms. Local media said 350 people had fled their homes.

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