An indigenous Pataxó woman cries as the Amazon continues to burn behind her, incinerating swathes of the earth’s largest forest basin.
Amid cries of foul play and a sluggish government response, protesters have been unable to stop the devastating fires which have left half of Brazil covered in smoke.
The Pataxó woman says: ‘For two years we’ve fought to preserve [our reservation] and these a**holes came in and burned it down.
An indigenous Pataxó woman cries as the Amazon continues to burn behind her, incinerating earth’s largest forest basin. Amid cries of foul play and government autocracy, protesters have been unable to stop the devastating fires which has left half of Brazil covered in smoke
‘They are killing our rivers, our sources of life, and now they have set our reserve on fire. Tomorrow we are closing the roads and I want all the media here to see this.’
Locals say the fires are being deliberately started to make room for cattle ranches, in a bid to boost Brazil’s economy under hardline president Jair Bolsonaro.
Despite galvanizing support at home and an international outcry abroad, the apocalyptic scenes show no signs of slowing down, killing thousands of wildlife and destroying their habitat.
President Jair Bolsonaro has sent Brazilian troops backed by military aircraft on Saturday prepared to deploy in the Amazon to fight fires that have swept the region.
Some 44,000 troops will be available for ‘unprecedented’ operations to put out the fires, and forces are heading to four Brazilian states that asked for federal help to contain the blazes, defence minister Fernando Azevedo said.
An Associated Press journalist flying over the Porto Velho region Saturday morning reported hazy conditions and low visibility. On Friday, the reporter saw many already deforested areas that were burned, apparently by people clearing farmland, as well as a large column of smoke billowing from one fire
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 months-long dry season to make way for crops or grazing has aggravated the problem.
The states are Roraima, Rondonia, Tocantins and Para, although parts of Mato Grosso and Acre are also among the worst affected.
The military’s first mission will be the deployment of 700 troops to the area around Porto Velho, capital of Rondonia, Mr Azevedo said.
He added that the military will use two C-130 Hercules aircraft capable of dumping up to 12,000 litres (3,170 gallons) of water on fires.
Amid a storm of protest, President Jair Bolsonaro was seen joking around and taking selfies at a military ceremony before sending soldiers to assist in putting out blazes that have raged for three weeks.
‘The protection of the forest is our duty,’ he said, as thousands of people took to the streets of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and the capital Brasilia to protest.
More than half of the fires are in the Amazon, 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)
The extent of the scorched remains of huge swathes of the Amazon rainforest have been laid bare in shocking new images from Brazil, as international leaders pile pressure on the country’s leader to take action
The environmental crisis was discussed by international leaders at the G7 meeting in Biarritz. Meanwhile, there were further protests outside Brazilian embassies in London and Paris and Bogota, Colombia.
On Friday, French President Emmanuel Macron and Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar threatened to block a free-trade agreement between the EU and South American nations if Mr Bolsonaro did not act to stop the deforestation of the Amazon, which experts say has fuelled the fires.
In response, Mr Bolsonaro vowed he ‘will act to combat deforestation and criminal activities that put people at risk in the Amazon’.
He said that Brazilian forces will deploy to border areas, indigenous territories and other affected regions to assist in putting out fires for a month, according to a presidential decree.