Tunisia and Algeria are suffocating under a historic heat wave

An unprecedented heat wave hit Tunisia and Algeria, resulting in massive power outages and numerous fires. In Algeria, fires left 15 dead and 26 injured overnight from Sunday to Monday.


The global thermometer continues to panic. Tunisia came close on Monday, July 24, even in the more temperate north of the country, at 50 degrees, or 6 to 10 degrees above normal for the time of year, causing power outages and forcing families to sleep on beaches.

In neighboring Algeria, authorities are on alert, with highs locally reaching 48 degrees in five eastern prefectures: Jijel, Skikda, Annaba, El Tarf and Guelma, placed on “orange alert”.

Following this “unprecedented heat wave”, public energy group Sonelgaz said it recorded a peak consumption of 18,697 megawatts on Sunday. Air conditioners have become too expensive (more than 500 euros against the previous 300) or impossible to find.

In both countries, fires have been recorded in the middle of overheated vegetation and without water for weeks.

In Algeria, forest and maquis fires left 15 dead and 26 injured overnight from Sunday to Monday and necessitated the evacuation of 1,500 people in northern and eastern areas. On the other side of the border with Algeria, near Tabarka in northwestern Tunisia, new fires broke out after the first fires were extinguished in the middle of the week.

Intensive use of air conditioning

These abnormally high temperatures in the month of July have caused power outages in recent days. The public company Steg explained that it decided to maintain the performance of the network. These load reductions take place for half an hour to an hour, especially during periods of high consumption.

On July 10, a record electricity consumption of 4,692 megawatts was reached, due to intensive use of air conditioning.

Tunisians from working-class neighborhoods, often without air conditioning, come in the evening to sleep in tents on the beaches of Carthage or La Marsa, north of Tunis.

On social networks, many Tunisians are ironic about the heat peak expected on Monday, comparing Tunisia to a “kanoun”, a traditional brazier.

Others have offered prayers for the heat wave, which has lasted more than two weeks on end.

Elsewhere in the Maghreb, Morocco and Libya, temperatures were more in line with seasonal norms.


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