Algerian cold spell leaves 29 dead

2012-02-09 14:10

Algiers - A cold weather spell that has killed dozens of people in Algeria has sparked strong press criticism of what it sees as the government's poor response to the emergency situation.

The AFP latest tally compiled on Wednesday recorded 29 deaths as snowstorms, hail and heavy rain had swept the north and east of the country.

But Channel Three radio, quoting official sources on Thursday, said that 44 had died over the past week - 30 in road accidents and 14 by asphyxia because of poor heating devices.

"Where are you mister ministers?" the popular Ecchourouk newspaper asked on Thursday, accusing them of spending more time on the upcoming May general elections than dealing with relief for those caught out by the bitter weather.

"A catastrophe and no emergency relief to deal with it," wrote El-Khabar newspaper.

"What is the government waiting for to proclaim a state of emergency a week after the start of the cold spell" that affects 20 of the country's 48 regions, it asked.

Newspapers also criticised a sudden increase in food prices, along with that of gas bottles, used for heating, whose price has been multiplied five- or six-fold.