Brazil fights Amazon fires, hundreds more flare up

Porto Velho (Brazil), August 25 

Brazil on Sunday deployed two C-130 Hercules aircraft to douse fires devouring parts of the Amazon rainforest as hundreds of new blazes were ignited ahead of nationwide protests over the destruction.

Heavy smoke covered the city of Porto Velho in the northwestern state of Rondonia where the defence ministry said the planes had started dumping thousands of litres of water amid a global uproar over the worst fires in years.

Swathes of the remote region bordering Bolivia have been scorched by the blazes, sending thick smoke billowing into the sky and increasing air pollution across the world’s largest rainforest, seen as crucial to mitigating climate change. Experts say increased land clearing during the months-long dry season to make way for crops or grazing aggravated the problem this year.

“It gets worse every year — this year, the smoke has been really serious,” Deliana Amorim, 46, a resident of Porto Velho, where half a million people live, said.

At least seven states, including Rondonia, have requested army’s help in the Amazon, where more than 43,000 troops are available to combat fires, officials said. Dozens of firefighters are en route to Porto Velho to help put out the blazes. Justice Minister Sergio Moro has also given the green light for the deployment of security forces to tackle illegal deforestation in the region. — AFP