At least 600 families have lost their homes to wildfires near Algeria’s capital, according to a representative of the Algerian Red Crescent.
Mountain forests and villages of Tizi-Ouzou, capital of Kabyle, has been in the grip of ravaging wildfires since Monday. The outbreak has claimed not less than 69 lives — 41 civilians and 28 soldiers. The mountainous Kabyle region, 100 kilometres (60 miles) east of Algeria’s capital of Algiers, is dotted with difficult-to-access villages and with temperatures rising has had limited water and is home to the Berber population of Algeria.
While the lack of water-dumping planes and rising temperatures can easily be blaimed for the raging flames, investigators believe the fires was deliberately started by yet to be identified persons.
Speaking on state TV, Prime Minister Aïmene Benabderrahmane said governors in the affected regions had been instructed to house the affected families.
“We gave strict instructions to the ‘wilaya’ (region) governor to direct all university accommodations currently available and all hotels, even private ones, to accommodate all the citizens who were affected by these fires and provide them with all means necessary for a decent accommodation in the best way until this disaster may pass, God willing,” he said.
Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune has further declared a three-day mourning period to honour the lives lost.
Tebboune said his North African nation would enter a three-day period of mourning starting Thursday that would include suspending all government activity except for actions of solidarity.
Meanwhile, the forestry director in Tizi-Ouzou, the regional capitol, shared that 18 fires remain active in the region.