The intense heat wave continues to wreak havoc and cause fires and great human damage across the planet, with record-breaking temperatures; In North African countries, a large heat wave is sweeping, as the region recorded temperatures of up to 49 degrees Celsius in some towns in Tunisia, where fires engulfed areas of forests, forcing hundreds of families to flee. While Algeria struggles to contain the remaining devastated forests, and at the same time it is mourning its dead who died in the raging fires.
The countries of Europe are not in a better condition, and they are also suffering from the “repercussions of the climate crisis” from the violent fires, as Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis warned that Greece is going through a “difficult summer.” In Italy, violent thunderstorms hit the north of the country, strong winds blew, and heavy rains and hail showers fell on Milan, the country’s economic capital, flooding the streets and falling trees on the roads.
Algeria: Funeral of victims and angry criticism of power
The Algerian authorities said, on Tuesday, that they are struggling to contain the remaining devastating forest fires in a hell that has killed at least 34 people, noting that they have been able to put out 80 percent of the fires so far. And the Algerian Ministry of the Interior said in a press statement, reported by Algerian Radio: “These positive results were achieved thanks to the activities of air interventions through the integrated firefighting aircraft, which achieved tangible results, and reached their maximum effectiveness after the qualitative improvement of climatic conditions, and the decrease in wind speed and temperature.” Fires broke out in several states in Algeria (Monday), and forests and agricultural crops were damaged. Algerian authorities deployed more than 8,000 firefighters to try to bring the flames under control. The civil protection services said that there were 15 fires in eight regions of the country (Tuesday) in Skikda, Jijel, Bouira, Bejaia, Tebessa, Medea, Setif and Tarf.
Ten of the 34 reported victims (the two) were soldiers. On Tuesday, the towns of Bejaia Province, in eastern Algeria, held funerals for their dead, who died in the raging fires that struck the region on Sunday night. Residents of the stricken areas stood on the extent of the losses incurred by homes and farms, in a gloomy funeral atmosphere, amid widespread solidarity from all regions of the country, even those affected by the fire, but no loss of life was witnessed. One of the survivors of the disaster said that he had lost 16 of his family and cousins, including his elderly mother, and confirmed in video images circulated by activists on social media platforms that the fires surprised them while they were in their homes in their village in Upper Bejaia (250 km east of the capital), expressing great sorrow for the fate of the region, which turned into a barren land after it was covered with vegetation and grains were scattered in it. Many of those who incurred losses as a result of the fire expressed their anger at the lack of capabilities to deal with fires locally.
Some of them also confirmed, in testimonies to the press, that the rescue teams arrived “too late,” or did not come in the first place in other towns. Others also questioned the “fate” of the government’s promises to buy fire-extinguishing planes, two years ago, when fires ravaged provinces in the east, leaving 42 dead and massive property damage. The youth of cultural associations in Bejaia published horrific pictures of tourist sites while they were burning, the most important of which is the “Kfarida Falls” in the city of Derkina, and in the forested area overlooking Bani Kesila, which is one of the most beautiful coasts of Bejaia. Pictures of the charming Ziyama Mansourieh with its natural landscapes were also circulated in the neighboring Jijel governorate, which has turned gray, and the blue of the sky that distinguishes it throughout the months of the year has disappeared, especially in the summer, when the residents of the provinces come to enjoy its beauty and mild atmosphere.
Bejaia alone counted 22 dead, including 10 soldiers, and the fire reached their barracks in Bani Kusayla. Another 25 soldiers were wounded. The Ministry of Defense explained what happened as “the force of the wind, which caused a random change in the direction of fire towards the location of the army detachment.” The military transported the victims to their areas of origin for burial. Most of them were in Bejaia, serving the one-year period of military service. Yesterday, planes specializing in extinguishing fires were seen landing on the beaches of Bejaia to fill their tanks with sea water, and then fly to the affected areas in the heights. According to a report published by the Civil Defense, at 8:30 this morning local time, 15 fires were counted in eight governorates, namely: Bejaia, Skikda, Jijel, Bouira, Tebessa, Setif and El Tarf, in the east of the country, and in Medea in the western center. The Ministry of the Interior confirmed, in a preliminary toll, that the death toll was 25. Later, it became clear that their number was 34. Many residents of the affected towns lost contact with their families and neighbors due to the interruption of the telephone network. It also announced today (Tuesday) that the Civil Protection had succeeded in extinguishing 80 percent of the fires that broke out in several states in the north of the country.
Tunisia: Efforts to confront a series of fires
The firefighting teams continued their efforts in Tunisia, on Tuesday, to control a massive fire in Tabarka and Jebel Malouleh, in the western state of Jendouba, and other regions, following a record and unprecedented rise in temperatures. In Tabarka, near the Algerian border to the west, the fire continued in the “Ain al-Subh” area, and it expanded due to the winds and intense heat (Monday). The firefighting teams and army units, with the help of military helicopters and a specialized firefighting plane, are struggling to prevent the spread of the fires. Documented pictures of the fires showed huge rising flames and thick smoke at several separate points in the area. Civil Protection spokesman Moez Treya said that the fire approached Tabarka airport.
Efforts also continued to contain the fire in Mount Malouleh, which has been burning for about a week, near the border crossing with Algeria. A civil protection spokesman told the German Press Agency that 156 people who had breathing difficulties were evacuated and transferred to the regional hospital in Tabarka. The army also evacuated more than 300 people from the village of Maloula across the sea. Tunisia has witnessed a severe heat wave since the beginning of this month, which reached its climax yesterday (Monday), with degrees reaching a level of about 50 degrees, and meters in the streets and cars on the roads have already recorded higher levels. The Meteorological Institute said that the temperature is expected to continue at the same level today (Tuesday), before recording a significant decrease in the next two days. Tariah added, explaining the outbreak of fires in three different regions of the republic’s states, at dawn on Tuesday, stressing the opening of investigations for the purpose to uncover the circumstances of the outbreak of fires, especially since the temporal and spatial sequence raises suspicion and suspicions about the possibility that the fires were an active act.
For his part, the regional director of civil protection in Tunis, Mounir Riabi, revealed, on Tuesday, that “7 fires coincided yesterday in Tunis, as a result of the severe heat wave that hit the country,” noting that “yesterday was difficult and terrifying.” Al-Riyabi explained that the Ain Zaghouan fire was the largest, as it destroyed 4 hectares of forests, and was adjacent to several residences in the region, pointing out that it was brought under control. The regional director of civil protection in Tunisia called on citizens to exercise caution and stay away from sources of fire, especially the forest, stressing that the repercussions of these fires could be catastrophic.
Morocco: 183 fires
The National Agency for Water and Forests in Morocco (a governmental institution concerned with forest cover) announced that the number of fires registered at the national level since the first of last January until the tenth of July this year amounted to 182 fires that affected 1,251 hectares, noting that 54 percent of this area is secondary weeds. A statement by the agency stated that its monitoring and intervention apparatus is still at its maximum level, given that the coming days are the periods of greatest danger for fires, in a context characterized by high temperatures during the summer. And she called on all users and visitors of forest areas to exercise utmost caution and caution, and not to light fires throughout the summer period.
Greece: The following is difficult
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis warned, on Tuesday, that Greece is going through a “difficult summer” and is suffering from “the repercussions of the climate crisis” from the violent fires that broke out due to the heat wave and winds that swept through part of the country. “Fighting fires will always be difficult because we are living through the repercussions of the climate crisis,” the conservative prime minister said during a cabinet meeting, the beginning of which was broadcast on public television. He estimated that in the future the situation would be “worse” with “higher temperatures, more drought and stronger winds, while the country’s geological terrain makes it difficult to fight fires.” “We still have a difficult summer ahead of us,” Kyriakos Mitsotakis warned, stressing that the authorities “will be on absolute vigilance.” According to the estimates of the Greek section of the NGO (WWF), the fire destroyed 35,000 hectares of forests and trees. The fires swept, in particular, the islands of Rhodes in the southeastern Aegean Sea and Corfu in the Ionian Sea.
At a distance of one hundred kilometers from Athens, the island of Evia also caught fire. In the capital, which has been witnessing a heat wave for more than a week, temperatures are expected to reach 41 degrees Celsius, while it is expected to reach 44 degrees in the center of the country as a maximum.
Italy: Thunderstorms and high temperatures
At this time, violent thunderstorms hit northern Italy. At dawn on Tuesday, strong winds blew and heavy rains and hail showers hit Milan, the country’s economic capital. Water flooded the streets and trees fell on the roads. The public transport company said there was extensive damage to the power grid, while an AFP journalist reported a temporary water outage in the city’s historic centre.
In the northern region of Brescia, a 16-year-old girl was killed when a tree fell on her tent at a scout camp, news agencies reported. Firefighters evacuated the other group members to a nearby gym.
In addition to the bad weather that strikes the north of the country, the south is affected by a heat wave, with a record of 47.6 degrees Celsius (Monday) in Catania, Sicily, according to Civil Protection. During the night, firefighters in Sicily battled several blazes, one of which reached a site near Palermo airport, which was closed for several hours in the morning. Rail traffic was also affected by these fires.