The death toll from wildfires sweeping across parts of Algeria rose to 69 on Wednesday, according to a local official in the hard-hit district of Tizi Ouzou.
Abdelkader Amrouche, the attorney general for the region, confirmed that the number included 20 soldiers who responded to the emergency when the fires first broke out on Monday.
The blaze is one of dozens affecting Tizi Ouzou and Béjaïa as Algeria and other countries in the Mediterranean region continue to endure hot, dry conditions.
‘We have mobilized all available means, materially and humanly, to confront these fires, which affect several states, until we finally overcome this disaster,” said President Abdelmadjid Tebboune. “The state will immediately start counting the losses and compensating the affected.”
Algeria will begin a three-day mourning period on Thursday.
John O’Rourke, the European Union ambassador to Algeria, said the EU Emergency Response Coordination Center received a request for assistance and France offered to send two Canadair firefighting planes. Algeria accepted the offer, O’Rourke said. Algeria also is leasing two EU Canadair planes that were deployed to Greece.
While a number of countries expressed condolences and offered aid, some remained focused on the challenges at home. Record-setting heat is expected to continue through the end of the week, with North Africa seeing temperatures as high as 49C.
Italy and Greece have also seen record-breaking heat and catastrophic wildfires, with Spain and Portugal next to feel the heat as it pushes west.