Northern Algeria is still burning. Firefighters, soldiers and volunteers were working, Saturday August 14, to extinguish the last forest fires sharpened by extreme heat. “Civil protection teams are currently working to extinguish 29 fires through 13 wilayas (prefectures) “, especially in Tizi Ouzou, Jijel and Bejaïa, in Kabylia, said a statement. In the past twenty-four hours, 43 homes have been extinguished in 20 prefectures. A hundred fires had been identified Thursday across the country.
In the absence of a new official global toll, the reports reported by local authorities, civil protection and the defense ministry show a total of some 90 deaths since Monday. The last official global toll on Friday stood at 71 dead.
On the ground, nearly 7,500 civil protection agents are deployed, with 490 fire fighting vans and three helicopters. Five heavy MI-26 helicopters, of Russian origin, were also mobilized by the army.
Two French water bombers made available by Paris – through the European Union (EU) – as well as a liaison aircraft, intervened massively Thursday and Friday in Kabylia. President Abdelmadjid Tebboune had reported Thursday evening of the charter of two Spanish water bombers and the imminent arrival of a third aircraft from Switzerland.
According to the specialized site Mena Defense, the Algerian army plans to buy eight Russian Beriev Be-200 water bombers. Three of them were due to arrive in Algiers on Saturday, according to local media.
Ceremony for the soldiers who died in the fires
The Ministry of Defense also organized two ceremonies on Saturday to honor the 33 soldiers who perished, one at the Algiers military hospital, in the presence of the Chief of Staff, Saïd Chenegriha, and the ‘another in Constantine (northeast).
“These heroes sacrificed their souls for the homeland and to save their fellow citizens from the arson attacks in different regions of our country”, said General Boualem Madi, director of defense communications during a funeral oration, on the third and last day of national mourning.
According to Algerian leaders, these fires are mostly of origin “Criminal” and arsonists were arrested. Experts and witnesses also point to the lack of anticipation and prevention of the public authorities in the face of a recurring phenomenon every year in Algeria, further accentuated this year by particularly high temperatures. Meteorological services predict temperatures of up to 48 ° C in a country already suffering from water stress.
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