Forest fires are raging along Algeria’s Mediterranean coast, with the death toll rising to 34, according to the government. Firefighters in neighboring Tunisia are also battling the flames.

Like in other countries in the Mediterranean region, fires in Algeria and Tunisia have caused significant damage and claimed lives. In Algeria, according to the Ministry of Interior, 34 people have lost their lives. The Ministry of Defense stated that during an operation against fires in the holiday region of Beni Ksila, east of the capital Algiers, ten soldiers were killed, and 25 were injured. It is unclear when the casualties occurred as the fires have been burning for several days.

8,000 firefighters deployed

In the severely affected provinces of Béjaïa, Bouira, and Jijel on the Mediterranean coast, east of the capital Algiers, 1,500 people had to be evacuated. The flames spread rapidly due to strong winds. According to authorities, the situation is now under control thanks to the deployment of approximately 8,000 firefighters and firefighting aircraft.

Six provinces are still actively working to extinguish the fires. The Ministry of Interior reported a total of 97 fires in 16 provinces. Algeria frequently grapples with severe forest fires during the summer, which claimed 37 lives last year and even 90 lives in 2021. 2,500 people evacuated

Algeria’s neighbor Tunisia reported temperatures reaching up to 50 degrees Celsius. The heatwave has affected large parts of the country, with temperatures in the capital, Tunis, reaching 48 degrees Celsius. Firefighters have been battling fires in forests near the Algerian border for several days. Just last week, a major fire broke out in a Tunisian pine forest near the border with Algeria.

Several individuals suffered heatstroke and were hospitalized. Approximately 2,500 people were reportedly evacuated to safety. According to a report by Reuters, hundreds of families in the border town of Melloula were forced to flee. A member of the Tunisian Civil Protection stated that hundreds of people were evacuated by sea using fishing boats and coastguard ships.