Published on: 08/18/2022 – 22:54 Firefighters in Algeria continued Thursday to fight the flames. Forest fires and drought have ravaged everything in their path and killed more than 30 people, including families trapped in a bus. Scenes of desolation. Firefighters in Algeria continued, Thursday, August 18, to fight against 24 forest fires in the north and the extreme east of the country, the day after violent fires which killed at least 37 people, including more than a dozen children. .The Ministry of Justice has opened an investigation to determine whether the fires were of arson after statements by the Minister of the Interior that “some of the fires were caused”.According to civil protection, 24 fires are still underway in seven prefectures. During the past 24 hours, 1,700 firefighters have been mobilized to put out 118 homes across 21 prefectures. The army and civil protection also use water bomber helicopters. A phenomenon that is growing Every year, northern Algeria is affected by forest fires, but this phenomenon is accentuated from year to year under the effect of climate change, which increases the probability of heat waves and droughts and by extension fires. It was around 48 degrees on Wednesday in El Tarf, Guelma and Souk Ahras. On the road to El Kala, near El Tarf, a city of 100,000 inhabitants, an AFP team saw charred trees, burned vehicles, people with haggard eyes. In El Kala, they found “significant damage in the animal park, the death of a person who was helping people to flee” and “12 others trapped in a bus ” in front of this zoo. At the hospital of El Kala, out of “72 people taken care of, nine are in intensive care, nine are dead and the others have left,” a health sector executive told AFP. of the wilaya of El Tarf. Prime Minister Aymen Benabderrahmane, who arrived in El Tarf on Thursday, presented President Abdelmadjid Tebboune’s condolences to the families and assured that the “authorities were implementing all means” to treat the injured and extinguish the fires still in progress.Scenes of panicNear Souk Ahras, about 200 km away, five fires are still not s under control. The day before, the fire had caused scenes of panic as it approached this city of half a million inhabitants. At least 350 families have left their homes, a hospital evacuated.To intervene in the fires, the authorities mobilized a Russian Beriev BE 200 water bomber, which broke down and will not be operational until Saturday, according to the Minister of Interior, Kamel Beldjoud, Wednesday evening.Algeria recently canceled a contract to charter seven water bombers to a Spanish company, following a falling out with Madrid after its reversal in favor of the position Morocco on the Western Sahara file. The fires of the last few days have revived the debate on the lack of water bombers in sufficient numbers, which had already agitated the country last year when at least 90 people died in the north of the country, in the worst fires since independence. No alternative During an Algerian-Canadian seminar on the fight against forest fires, specialists had recommended last May “the establishment of a national system at least equivalent to that which existed in the 1980s”, an expert who took part in the debates told AFP on condition of anonymity. At the time, “the DTA (aerial work directorate) had 22 Grumman-type aircraft which were the pride of Algeria, particularly in the fight against forest fires”, added the expert, according to whom the devices “were sold at the symbolic dinar without any alternative solution being offered”. the largest in Africa, Algeria has a limited forest area of 4.1 million hectares, with a meager reforestation rate of 1.76%. With AFP
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