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Brazil starts fighting Amazon fires with military planes

August 26, 2019

BRAZIL, Aug. 26 (Reuters / EP) –

Brazilian military airplanes are throwing water on the fires of the Amazon rainforest in the state of Rondonia in response to worldwide outrage over the environmental disaster, according to a video released by the government.

The president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, has authorized military operations in seven states to fight fire in the Amazon region, following requests from their local governments, a spokeswoman for his office reported.

The video, released this Saturday night by the Brazilian Ministry of Defense, shows a military plane discharging thousands of liters of water as it passed through clouds of smoke emerging from the jungle.

The measure occurs while the G7 leaders gathered in France expressed their dismay at the fires. French President Emmanuel Macron said that the G7 was approaching an agreement to offer technical and financial assistance to countries affected by the fires.

Throughout Brazil, almost 80,000 outbreaks of fire had been recorded on August 24, the largest number since at least 2013, according to the space research agency INPE.

Bolsonaro announced Friday that he would send the Army, after several days of criticism from world leaders who said the Brazilian government was doing nothing to fight the fire. However, beyond Rondonia, the Government has not yet given operational details about the activity in other states.

In addition, the president announced through his Twitter account that he had accepted the offer of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a plane and specialized support for firefighting operations.

The Ministry of Defense reported on Saturday that 44,000 troops were available in the northern region of the Amazon rainforest. However, he did not specify how many would be used in each place or what they would do.

The Minister of Justice, Sergio Moro, also authorized a military police force to help fight the fires, with 30 troops that would be sent from Brasilia to Porto Velho.

Meanwhile, Environment Minister Ricardo Salles has published a video in which several fire prevention trucks and other government vehicles appear, adding that they were on the ground to respond to fires in Rondonia.

The president of Colombia, Iván Duque, indicated on Sunday that he would seek a conservation pact with other Amazonian countries, first in bilateral meetings in Peru this week and then in the United Nations General Assembly.