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Montevideo, July 13th 2020 - 04:27 UTC

 

 

Hundreds of new fires in the Brazilian Amazon, despite military aircraft dumping water

Tuesday, August 27th 2019 - 09:44 UTC
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Two C-130 Hercules aircraft carrying thousands of liters of water on Sunday began dousing fires devouring chunks of the world's largest rainforest Two C-130 Hercules aircraft carrying thousands of liters of water on Sunday began dousing fires devouring chunks of the world's largest rainforest
Images on the presidential office Twitter account on Monday showed firefighters wearing bright orange or yellow clothing using water backpacks to douse flames. Images on the presidential office Twitter account on Monday showed firefighters wearing bright orange or yellow clothing using water backpacks to douse flames.

Hundreds of new fires have flared up in the Amazon in Brazil, data showed on Monday, even as military aircraft dumped water over hard-hit areas and G7 nations pledged to help combat the blazes.

Smoke choked Port Velho city and forced the closure of the airport for nearly two hours as fires raged in the northwestern state of Rondonia where fire-fighting efforts are concentrated, amid a growing global uproar.

Two C-130 Hercules aircraft carrying thousands of liters of water on Sunday began dousing fires devouring chunks of the world's largest rainforest, which is seen as crucial to keeping climate change in check.

Swaths of the remote region have been scorched by the worst fires in years.

Seventy personnel - firefighters and troops - have been deployed to put out the blazes, the Rondonia government said on Saturday.

Images posted on the presidential office Twitter account on Monday showed firefighters wearing bright orange or yellow clothing using water backpacks to douse flames.

Experts say increased land clearing during the months-long dry season to make way for crops or grazing has aggravated the recurring problem this year.

Seen from above, the destruction in Rondonia is dramatic: walls of flames advancing across the expansive forest beneath enormous plumes of thick smoke.

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro has ordered an investigation into reports that rural producers in the northern state of Para held a “day of fire” on Aug 10 in a show of support for the far-right leader's efforts to weaken environmental protection monitoring.

The worsening crisis has fuelled a row between Bolsonaro and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, who has been piling pressure on the Brazilian leader to do more to protect the forest.

The G7 summit agreed to support a medium-term reforestation plan which will be unveiled at the UN in September, Macron and Chile's President Sebastian Piñera said.

Environment Minister Ricardo Salles told reporters the G7 funding was welcomed.

Although about 60% of the Amazon is in Brazil, the vast forest also spreads over parts of eight other countries or territories.

Brazil has accepted help from Israel, which offered to send an aircraft.

Seven states, including Rondonia, have requested the Brazilian army's help in the Amazon, where more than 43,000 troops have been made available to combat fires.

It is not clear how many of them are actually involved in fire-fighting efforts so far.

After initially blaming the fires on non-government organizations, Bolsonaro on Friday changed his tune. He vowed a “zero tolerance” approach to criminal activities in the Amazon and promised strong action to control the blazes.

Bolsonaro's delayed response came as the Amazon crisis threatened to torpedo a massive trade agreement between the European Union and Mercosur, including Brazil, which had alarmed the powerful agriculture sector.

Thousands have taken to the streets in Brazil and Europe in recent days to denounce the destruction.

The latest official figures show 80,626 forest fires have been recorded in Brazil this year, the highest number of any year since at least 2013. More than half of the fires are in the massive Amazon basin.

Some 1,113 new fires were ignited across Saturday and Sunday, according to Brazil's National Institute for Space Research.

Categories: Environment, Politics, Brazil.

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