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Wildfires across Algeria have killed at least 2 dozen people

In this image taken from video, a wildfire burns in Zbarbar, Bouira Province, Algeria, Monday, July 24, 2023.
AP
In this image taken from video, a wildfire burns in Zbarbar, Bouira Province, Algeria, Monday, July 24, 2023.

ALGIERS, Algeria — Wildfires raging across Algeria have killed 25 people, including 10 soldiers trying to get the flames under control in the face of high winds and scorching summer temperatures, government ministries said Monday.

At least 1,500 people were evacuated, the Interior Ministry said, without providing details.

The Interior Ministry announced 15 deaths and 24 injuries. In addition, the Defense Ministry later announced 10 soldiers were killed and 25 injured as they fought fires in the resort area of Beni Ksila east of the capital Algiers.

It wasn't immediately clear over what period of time the casualties happened, but the fires have been burning for several days.

Wildfires, some spread by strong winds, moved across forests and agricultural areas in 16 regions causing 97 blazes in the north African country. The largest and deadliest fires ravaged parts of Bejaia and Jijel — in the Kabyle region east of Algiers — and Bouira, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) southeast of Algiers, the Interior Ministry said.

Operations to tamp down the fires included some 7,500 firefighters and 350 trucks on the ground as well as air support.

Algeria is no stranger to summer wildfires.

At least 37 people were killed last August after wildfires blazed near Algeria's northern border with Tunisia.

A year earlier, authorities said dozens were killed in blazes — including soldiers called in to help fight the fires in the mountainous Kabyle region that is dotted with villages.

Strong winds and successive heat waves have fueled vicious fires in Greece and elsewhere around the Mediterranean this summer.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

The Associated Press