Algerians in the fire-ravaged northeast were counting the cost on Thursday, as the blazes claimed the lives of 34 people, destroyed homes, and transformed vast forest areas into scorched wastelands.
For several days, wildfires raged through the mountain forests of the Kabylia region on the Mediterranean coast, fueled by blistering summer heat and winds.
Aid supplies were arriving in the affected areas, but water and electricity remained cut off in wide areas due to the wildfires.
“We need help, all the help we can get,” said a man at an aid supply point in Bejaia, located 250 kilometers (150 miles) from Algiers. “We need clothes, mattresses, and other essential items.”
In the small village of Ait Oussalah, witnesses reported that 16 people were killed as they attempted to escape the flames, accounting for 10 percent of the village population.
Algeria’s President Abdelmadjid Tebboune has expressed his condolences to the families of those killed in the wildfires, including 10 soldiers who were tragically trapped by the flames in Bejaia province.
During the peak of the disaster, over 100 fires were reported in 17 provinces, according to Interior Minister Brahim Merad. These wildfires necessitated the evacuation of more than 1,500 people.
Over 8,000 civil defence personnel were mobilized, accompanied by 500 fire trucks and several chartered aircraft, to combat the wildfires.
Merad stated that local authorities have been directed to assess the damage and losses, identify the victims, and expedite the process of compensation.
Each summer, forest fires in northern and eastern Algeria have been a recurring challenge, but the situation has worsened due to the intensified Mediterranean heatwave this year.