Algeria’s president has announced that 25 soldiers were killed saving residents from the wildfires ravaging forests and villages east of the capital.
The president of the sprawling North African nation tweeted that the soldiers saved 100 citizens from the blazes in two areas in the mountainous Kabyle region, home of the Berbers.
Four other soldiers were seriously burned and seven others also had burns, the Defence Ministry said.
President Abdelmadjid Tebboune tweeted that the soldiers were “martyrs” who saved 100 people from the fires in two areas of Kabyle.
Prime Minister Aimene Benabderrahmane later said on state TV that 17 civilians had also lost their lives.
The Kabyle region, 60 miles east of Algeria’s capital Algiers, is dotted with difficult-to-access villages and with temperatures rising has had limited water. Some villagers were fleeing, while others tried to hold back the flames themselves, using buckets, branches and rudimentary tools. The area has no water-dumping planes.
The deaths and injuries on Tuesday occurred mainly around Kabyle’s capital of Tizi-Ouzou, which is flanked by mountains, and also in Bejaia, which borders the Mediterranean Sea, the president said.