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Algeria Wildfire Toll Keeps Climbing

FILE: A house burns during a wildfire in Tizi Ouzou, one of the most populous cities in Algeria's Kabylie region, on 8.10.2021

The latest toll of victims from the fires increased to 43," from 38 recorded two days earlier, the gendarmerie command said on state radio.

Thirteen people have been arrested over suspicion of involvement in starting the fires, it added.

The gendarmerie, which operates under the defense ministry, added that they are still working on identifying the bodies of the victims.

The death toll is expected to increase, it said, despite earlier reports that the fires had mostly been contained.

Civil protection services said some 31 fires were put out in various parts of the North African country between Saturday and Sunday.

More than 1,000 families were evacuated from various districts over the past few days, the civil defence's Colonel Boualem Boughlef said on Saturday.

The fires, which have become a yearly fixture due to climate change, have devastated thousands of hectares (acres) of woodland in the mostly-desert country.

Fires last year killed at least 90 people and seared 100,000 hectares (247,000 acres) of forest and farmland in the north.