Algeria’s state TV says 12 soldiers are in hospital in critical condition with 28 others killed as residents flee to nearby towns in the worst-hit area of Tizi Ouzou.
Wildfires tearing through forested areas of northern Algeria have killed at least 65 people, state TV reported, as some of the most destructive blazes in the country's history continued to rage.
The government has deployed the army to help fight the fires, which have burnt most fiercely in the mountainous Kabylie region, and 28 of the dead are soldiers, with another 12 critically injured with burns.
"The death toll from the forest fires has climbed to 65 dead — 28 soldiers and 37 civilians — most of them in Tizi Ouzou district" east of the capital, the TV said.
Another 12 soldiers were "in hospital in a critical condition", it added.
President Abdelmadjid Tebboune declared three days of national mourning for the dead and froze state activities not related to the fires.
Dozens of separate fires have raged through forest areas across northern Algeria since Monday and on Tuesday Interior Minister Kamel Beldjoud accused arsonists of igniting the flames, without providing any evidence.
The worst hit area has been Tizi Ouzou, the largest district of the Kabylie region, where houses have burned and residents fled to shelter in hotels, hostels and university accommodation in nearby towns.
The government has said it will compensate those affected.
READ MORE: Raging wildfires in Algeria claims lives
‼Oh my God, what is happening in #Algeria, 14 provinces are burning. Dozens are dying who have been reached by the fires.— Omayma kingdom🎊🤍🎊 (@omabelllll) August 11, 2021
My thoughts are with all countries Turkey, Greece, Brazil, and Algeria, and all the countries facing the fires. My thoughts and prayers are with them.❤🙏 pic.twitter.com/6QhyPE9u8L
Heat wave hits neighbouring Tunisia
Meanwhile, a heat spike across northern Tunisia caused record temperatures on Tuesday including a sweltering 49 degrees Celsius (120 degrees Fahrenheit) in the capital Tunis, the Meteorological Institute said.
In some parts of the country the high temperatures led to power outages as people stayed at home running air conditioning, putting extra pressure on the electricity system.
Tunisia's Meteorological Institute said the previous highest recorded temperature in Tunis was 46.8C in 1982. The northern cities of Bizerte and Beja also endured their highest recorded temperatures on Tuesday.
A UN climate panel warned on Monday that climate change was close to spiralling out of control and that the world was already certain to face further climate disruptions for decades, if not centuries, to come.
In the Mediterranean region, high temperatures over the past week have contributed to wildfires that have swept through forested parts of Greece, Turkey, Tunisia and Algeria.