More than 65 people died due to wildfires in Algeria, said state television on Wednesday.
28 out of the 65 are relief firefighters who were trying to shut down the fire. And 12 firefighters got injured and are now in hospital in “a critical condition.
Abdelmadjid Tebboune, President of the country, expressed his deep sorrow for the causalities. Firefighters who died trying to save hundreds of people are “martyrs,” said the President.
According to the defence ministry, wildfires burned around 11 soldiers, four of them are in a critical condition.
The Kabyle region, which is mountainous, has difficult-to-reach areas, amid high temperatures and limited water.
While some residents fled, others attempted to shut down the blazes using simple tools like branches or buckets. And the region does not have water-dropping planes.
Kabyle is not the only region that witnessed deaths and injuries. Bejaia, which is on the borders of the Mediterranean, saw deaths and injuries as well.
On his statement to the state television, the prime minister announced that flames broke out nearly at the same time. That “leads one to believe these were criminal acts.”
Similarly, Kamel Beldjoud, the interior minister, who arrived to Kabyle to evaluate the situation, declared that fire is foul play.
He stated “Thirty fires at the same time in the same region can’t be by chance.”
On the cutting edge
The Algerian government have sent firefighters to battle flames and help people evacuate.
Wildfires swept through forests, burning olive trees and cattle, which are the source of living of Kabyle’s region population.
According to the Civil Protection, until now there are 41 fires in 18 regions since Monday night. 21 of them raged Tizi Ouzou.
It looked like “the end of the world,” said a 92-year-old lady, who resides in the village of Ait Saada.
According to Fatima Aoudia, a citizen in the region, the situation looks like the Algerian independence war in the 1960s. “We were afraid. The entire hill turned into a giant blaze,” added Aoudia.
The authorities received harsh criticism on their relatively slow reaction to the flames.
The Rally for Culture and Democracy (RCD) joined the criticism campaign, as they blamed the government for their late response.
As flames increase and keep razing, the hashtag #PrayforAlgeria became trending on social media. And photography filled twitter and other platforms, showing orange skies and huge plumes of smoke.
Unlike the government perspective, climate specialists refer this to the burning of coal and natural gas. The process is spurring the heatwaves and wildfires.