New fires rage in Amazon as Brazil warplanes battle flames

Porto Velho, Brazil, Aug 26 (AFP/APP):Hundreds of new fires have flared up in the Amazon in Brazil, data showed Monday, even as military aircraft dumped water over hard-hit areas and G7 nations pledged to help combat the blazes.

Smoke choked Port Velho city as fires raged in the northwestern state of Rondonia where fire-fighting efforts are concentrated, amid a growing global uproar and a diplomatic spat between France and Brazil.

Two C-130 Hercules aircraft carrying thousands of liters of water on Sunday began dousing fires devouring chunks of the world’s largest rainforest, which is seen as crucial to keeping climate change in check.

Swaths of the remote region have been scorched by the worst fires in years, sending thick smoke billowing into the sky.

Experts say increased land clearing during the months-long dry season to make way for crops or grazing has aggravated the problem this year.

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has ordered an investigation into reports that rural producers in the northern state of Para held a “day of fire” on August 10 in a show of support for the far-right leader’s efforts to weaken environmental protection monitoring in the region.

The worsening crisis has fueled a row between Bolsonaro and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, who has been piling pressure on the Brazilian leader to do more to protect the forest.

Macron on Monday condemned “extraordinarily rude” comments made about his wife Brigitte by Bolsonaro a day earlier.

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