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Deadly fires rage along Algeria coast, spread to Tunisia

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Deadly fires rage along Algeria coast, spread to Tunisia

Algeria was battling to contain devastating forest fires along its Mediterranean coast on Tuesday, in an inferno which has killed at least 34 people, authorities said, adding they had managed to control about four-fifths of the blaze.

Fanned by strong winds, fires had also spread to neighbouring Tunisia, forcing the closure of two border crossings.

A relentless heatwave has caused havoc across the planet this month, with temperatures breaking records in China, the United States, southern Europe, and North Africa, leaving a trail of devastation in its wake.

Greece has been battling forest fires for the past week, triggering a mass evacuation of thousands of tourists from its most popular holiday resorts.

The fires broke out in several provinces in Algeria on Monday, ripping through forests, olive groves, and low-lying shrubland. More than 8,000 firefighters were deployed to bring the flames under control.

Algerian civil protection services said 15 fires were raging across eight regions on Tuesday at Skikda, Jijel, Bouira, Bejaia, Tebessa, Medea, Setif, and El Tarf.

Ten of the 34 victims reported on Monday were soldiers. Authorities said they had evacuated some 1,500 people from their homes.

Temperatures of 49 degrees Celsius (120 Fahrenheit) were recorded in some cities in Tunisia this week.

Civil protection units, backed by forestry workers and the air force were working to put out fires in several areas of Tabarka in the northwest, bordering Algeria.

Moez Tria, spokesman for Tunisian civil protection, said priority was given to protecting residential communities in the region and preventing the blaze from reaching an airport in the area.

Fires also broke out in other regions of the country including Bizerte, Beja, and Siliana regions.

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Putin Registers As Candidate For Russia’s Next Presidential Election

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Russia on Monday officially recognised Vladimir Putin as a candidate for the presidential elections in March, a vote that he is all but certain to win.

The 71-year-old has led Russia since the turn of the century, winning four presidential ballots and briefly serving as prime minister in a system where opposition has become virtually non-existent.

The Central Election Commission said it had registered Putin, who nominated himself, as well as right-wing firebrand and Putin-loyalist Leonid Slutsky as candidates for the vote.

The election will be held over a three-day period from March 15 to 17, a move that Kremlin critics have argued makes guaranteeing transparency more difficult.

Following a controversial constitutional reform in 2020, Putin could stay in power until at least 2036.

Rights groups say that previous elections have been marred by irregularities and that independent observers are likely to be barred from monitoring the vote.

While Putin is not expected to face any real competition, liberal challenger Boris Nadezhdin has passed the threshold of signatures to be registered as a candidate.

However, it is still unclear if he will be allowed to run, and the Kremlin has said it does not consider him to be a serious rival.

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Hong Kong court grants Chinese real estate giant reorganisation postponement

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Hong Kong’s Supreme Court has once again granted the highly indebted Chinese real estate giant Evergrande a postponement for its reorganisation plan.

Judge Linda Chan surprisingly postponed the decision until Jan. 29, the South China Morning Post reported on Monday.

The property developer, which has liabilities estimated at more than 300 billion dollars, is threatened with liquidation.

However, creditors from abroad had taken the company to court because of its missing several payments.

Chan had already said at the previous hearing that this would be the last postponement and that she would very likely agree to liquidation if China Evergrande did not find a plan for restructuring with its creditors.

According to reports, however, the lawyers of the Hong Kong-listed group had now held out the prospect of being able to reach an agreement with the lenders in the coming weeks.

In the case of liquidation, an insolvency administrator would monetise the company and pay out the creditors.

Meanwhile, some experts were of the opinion that liquidation would return less money to creditors than a reorganisation, China Evergrande argued the same in court, according to reports.

The group had been trying to submit a restructuring plan since 2022, without success. Its founder and once China’s richest man, Hui Ka Yan, is being investigated by the Chinese authorities.

Like many other property groups, the company had been in a serious crisis for some time because it is earning significantly less on the slumping property market.

The company is finding it more difficult to obtain state support and is no longer able to service its loans.

“The Evergrande case also shows that the era of large private property developers in China is coming to an end,’’ says Max Zenglein from the Merics China Institute in Berlin.

If Chan decides to wind up China Evergrande, this could also have an impact on other companies.

“One challenge for the government will be to prevent domino effects in the economy caused by major bankruptcies,’’ says Zenglein.

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