At least 26 people died and dozens of others were injured in forest fires that ravaged 14 districts of northern Algeria on Wednesday, the Algerian interior minister said.

Iran PressAfrica: The minister, Kamel Beldjoud, told state television that 24 people lost their lives in fires in El Tarf, near the border with Tunisia, in addition to two others who died earlier in Setif.

In Souk Ahras, further to the east near Algeria's border with Tunisia, people were seen fleeing their homes as fires spread before firefighting helicopters were deployed.

An earlier toll said four people in Souk Ahras suffered burns and 41 others had breathing difficulties, the authorities said. Media reports said 350 residents had been evacuated.

No updated toll was given on the number of people injured in the fires in other areas.

According to television station Ennahar, around fifty people were taken to hospital in El Tarf, a town with a population of around 100,000.

The gendarmerie has closed several roads as a result of the fires.

"Thirty-nine fires are underway in 14 districts," the emergency services said, noting that El Tarf was the worst hit, with 16 fires in progress. 219