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Algeria wildfires ‘all under control’: Civil defense

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Wildfires, which killed at least 38 people and left a trail of destruction in eastern Algeria this week, are now under control, a civil defence official told AFP on Friday.

“All of the fires have been completely brought under control,” said fire brigade Colonel Farouk Achour, of the civil defence department.

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Since the beginning of August, almost 150 blazes have destroyed hundreds of hectares (acres) of forest in Africa's largest country.

Deadly fires have become an annual scourge in Algeria, where climate change has turned large areas of forest into a tinderbox in the blistering summer months.

The justice ministry launched an inquiry after Interior Minister Kamel Beldjoud suggested some of the fires were started deliberately, and authorities on Thursday announced four arrests of suspected arsonists.

Authorities have been accused of being ill-prepared, with few firefighting aircraft available despite record casualties in last year's blazes and a cash windfall from gas exports with global energy prices soaring.

Read more:

Death toll rises to 26 in forest fires spread in north Algeria

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