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Tuesday 20th March 2018

New Fires Erupt in Amazon Amid Brazil-France Diplomatic Spat

Politics

7Dnews London

Tue, 27 Aug 2019 09:10 GMT

More fires raged in several parts of the Amazon on Monday August 26th, despite military aircraft dropping water on the worst-hit locations, amid an intense global uproar and a growing diplomatic row between France and Brazil.

AFP reported that huge plumes of black smoke choked Porto Velho city in Brazil and forced the closure of the airport for nearly two hours as fires flared in the north-western state of Rondonia, where fire-fighting efforts are concentrated.

"In some way we're all passive smokers," said Sergio Pereira, head of a children's hospital in the city where more people than usual are seeking treatment for respiratory problems.

"The smoke can be really aggressive and the most affected are children and the elderly."

Swathes 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.

G7 countries made a $20 million aid pledge to fight the blazes at the Biarritz summit hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron, who insisted they should be discussed as a top priority.

However, the Brazilian government rejected the aid with a top official telling President Macron to take care of "his home and his colonies."

"We appreciate (the offer), but maybe those resources are more relevant to reforest Europe," Onyx Lorenzoni, chief of staff to President Jair Bolsonaro, told the G1 news website.

Meanwhile, President Macron told the G7 that the Amazon, while mostly Brazilian, is a world issue and that his message to Bolsonaro is "we cannot allow you to destroy everything."

Nearly 80,000 forest fires have broken out in Brazil since the beginning of the year. Just over half of these have occurred in the massive Amazon basin, sometimes referred to as the planet’s lungs, where thick forests help to regulate part of the Earth's carbon cycle and climate.

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