ALGIERS  - Storms sweeping across northeast Algeria have killed 20 people and injured 56, the state news agency APS on Sunday cited emergency services as saying. It said nine people died when torrential rain and high winds hit the regions of Tebessa 600 kilometres (360 miles) east of Algiers, Tlemcen (600 kilometres west of the capital) and M’sila (250 kilometres to its south). Another person was killed by a lightning strike in the Blida region 50 kilometres south of Algiers, and 21 homes were also inundated. The emergency services were called out in several areas to rescue people whose homes had flooded during the storms that raged for the past 48 hours over 22 of the country’s 48 districts.

The bad weather, which also caused widespread material damage, comes after a heatwave sparked wildfires that ravaged nearly 21,000 hectares (51,870 acres) of land and woodland at the start of August, killing a fireman and a forest ranger.