- Deadly floods that hit Algerian Sahara desert have killed 29 people, injuring over 80, officials said. The torrential rains, which began on Tuesday, have also cut gas and electricity in the area.
Local news agency, Algerian Press Service said some 600 houses were destroyed around historic town of Ghardaia, about 600 kilometres south of Algiers.
"Following these floods, we can sadly declare that 29 people have died and 84 been injured, and state services are providing support to other victims," Ali Belkhir, chief public health officer, told national radio.
Interior Minister Noureddine Yazid Zerhouni earlier told official APS news agency that up to 600 homes had been inundated.
Mr Zerhouni also said food stocks in town, a home to around 100,000 people, had been flooded and probably made unfit to eat.
Authorities said army units have been deployed in the area to help families displaced by storms, saying government has set up a crisis unit to deal with the disaster.
Helicopters were being used to rescue hundreds of people stranded in flooded areas after streams rapidly overflowed their banks due to the unusually strong downpour.
APS said storms caused a local seasonal river that remains dry for most of the year to rise up to eight metres within hours, an inundation level seen once every 100 years.
Ghardaia is in the M'Zab valley, along a river bed which is dry most of the year and is listed as a UN World Heritage Site and frequented by European tourists, although there were no reports whether Europeans are among then dead.
This week floods have caused problems elsewhere in North Africa. Moroccan state press agency said two people were killed and one is still missing following torrential rains in the region of Marrakech.
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