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Friday, January 28, 2022

Qatar’s amir sends condolences to Algeria as deadly wildfires rip through country


Wildfires have ripped through the North African country’s forest areas, killing 42 people.

Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani sent his condolences to the President of Algeria for the victims of deadly wildfires that have sparked in several areas of the North African country.

A series of separate fires have ignited through forest areas across northern Algeria since Monday night, killing at least 42 people, including 25 soldiers sent to help put out the blaze.

Clouds of smoke have covered much of the mountainous Kabylie region east of Algiers, obstructing the visibility of fire crews. Meanwhile, smaller fires have ravaged forests in at least 16 provinces in Algeria since Monday.

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Algerian Minister of Interior Kamel Beldjoud has accused arsonists of starting the fires, but failed to provide more details on the claims.

“Only criminal hands can be behind the simultaneous outbreak of about 50 fires across several localities,” he said.

In desperate efforts to put out the fires, residents of the Tizi Ouzou region in Kabylie used tree branches or water from plastic containers to try to extinguish burning patches of land.

Some soldiers were killed while trying to extinguish the flames, others perished after they were cut off by the spreading fire, according to residents of Kabylie. Algeria’s defence ministry said more soldiers had suffered severe burn related injuries.

Several houses were burnt as Algerian families escaped to hotels, youth hostels and university residences.

Algerian Prime Minister Ayman Benabderrahmane said the government was in “advanced talks with (foreign) partners to hire planes and help speed up the process of extinguishing fires.”

Mediterranean wildfires

Last week, a European Union atmosphere monitor said the Mediterranean had become a hotspot for wildfires, as massive blazes, aided by a heatwave, engulfed regions in Turkey and Greece,

For the past week, uncontrolled wildfires have swept through several parts of Greece in what is considered the country’s “worst heatwave in more than 30 years,” with temperatures exceeding 40C (104F).

Hundreds of homes have been destroyed as the inferno tore through thousands of acres of forestland, leaving hundreds of animals dead in its path. Residents have described “losing entire villages to flames”.

Thousands of people have been forced to evacuate the island via ferries and fishermen’s boats, with “apocalyptic” scenes emerging on social media.

An equipped search and rescue from the Qatar’s International Search and Rescue Group of the Internal Security Lekhwiya Forcehas was dispatched to Greece to assist in battling a series of “catastrophic” wildfires in the country

Read also: Turkey’s Erdogan thanks Qatar for help in tackling deadly wildfires

Similarly in Turkey, 200 wildfires burnt 1,600 square kilometres of the country’s forest in what has been labelled as the country’s worst infernos in modern history.

Many of the blazes raged close to popular tourist destinations, from Manavgat to Marmaris and Bodrum, pushing thousands of locals and visitors to quickly flee in cars, boats and yachts to save their lives.

Qatar also dispatched a Lekhwiya team to Turkey to assist with rescue operations.

The severe heatwave has also seen wildfires erupting across several countries in southern Europe, including Albania, Spain, and Italy.

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