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Brazil redoubles efforts to combat fires in the Amazon

Firefighting and aid ramp up as severe drought fuels devastating fires across the northern state of Amazonas.

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Firefighting and aid ramp up as severe drought fuels devastating fires across the northern state of Amazonas.

ARTICLE BY

PUBLISHED

READING TIME

Less than 1 minute Minutes

UPDATED: 21 Dec 2023, 11:08 pm

Brazil’s environment minister has announced ramping up of government efforts to combat fires in the drought-stricken Amazon, reports Lusa.

The severe drought in recent months caused a sharp decrease in the flow of rivers and triggered fires, with “economic, social and environmental consequences” for the entire state of Amazonas, according to the environment minister, Marina Silva. Sixty of the 62 municipalities in the state of Amazonas have already declared an emergency. 

Nearly 3,000 fires have been recorded in recent weeks as the sharp increase in dry organic matter means the normal process of preparing land for planting can easily transform into a wildfire. Authorities mobilised around 3,500 firefighters in response, partnering with municipal and regional brigades to combat the fires.

[See more: A drought in the Brazilian Amazon will affect half a million people]

Lack of rain is common for the region in September and October, but the combination of El Niño and worsening climate change have made the situation far worse. The region’s worst drought on record, back in October 2010, came at the tail end of an El Niño phenomena after two years of unusually dry winters; the current El Niño began in June.

The situation would likely be even worse if deforestation, one of the biggest causes of fire in the region, had not been drastically curtailed under the current administration.

Lower water levels have still resulted in a large loss of a fish, an important food source for those in the Amazon, and impeded movement as many waterways cannot support boat traffic. The government has instead deployed air force helicopters to distribute food and other essential goods, even as firefighting efforts intensify.

 

UPDATED: 21 Dec 2023, 11:08 pm

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