Hundreds of new fires in Brazil as outrage over Amazon grows
Hundreds of new fires are raging in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, official data showed Saturday, as thousands of troops were made available to help fight the worst blazes in years following a global outcry.
Multiple fires billowing huge plumes of smoke into the air were seen across a vast area of the northwestern state of Rondonia on Friday when AFP journalists flew over the area.
Several residents in the capital, Porto Velho, told AFP on Saturday that what appeared to be light clouds hanging over the city of half a million people, was actually smoke from the blazes that had scorched swaths of land and left tree trunks smoldering on the ground.
"I'm very worried because of the environment and health," Delmara Conceicao Silva told AFP.
"I have a daughter with respiratory problems and she suffers more because of the fires."
The fires in the world's largest rainforest have triggered a global uproar, and are a major topic of concern at the G7 meeting in Biarritz in southern France.
Official figures show 78,383 forest fires have been recorded in Brazil this year, the highest number of any year since 2013. Experts say the clearing of land during the monthslong dry season to make way for crops or grazing, has aggravated the problem.
More than half of the fires are in the massive Amazon basin, where more than 20 million people live. Some 1,663 new fires were ignited between Thursday and Friday, according to Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE).