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Brazil's Amazon rainforests burn at record rate

August 22, 2019 08:59 IST

Fires are raging at a record rate in Brazil's Amazon rainforest, and scientists warn that it could strike a devastating blow to the fight against climate change.

Although more than 72,000 fires have raged since the year began, over 9,500 new infernos have ignited since last Thursday, according to Brazil's space research centre INPE.

There has been an 83 per cent surge in forest fires since the same period last year and the highest number since records began.

A man works in a burning tract of Amazon jungle as it is being cleared by loggers and farmers in Iranduba, Amazonas state, Brazil. So far this year Brazil's space research centre has detected 72,843 fires, an 83 per cent surge on last year and the highest numbers since records began in 2013. Photograph: Bruno Kelly/Reuters
 

The Amazon is often referred to as the planet's lungs, producing 20 per cent of the oxygen in the Earth's atmosphere. Dramatic images and videos on social media show giant plumes of smoke rising from the greenery and lines of fire leaving blackened waste in their wake. The smoke has reached all the way to Sao Paulo, more than 1,700 miles away.. Photograph: Bruno Kelly/Reuters

This week of fires comes on the heels of another worrisome milestone for the world's largest rainforest. The month of July set a new record for the most deforestation ever in the Amazon in a single month, The Guardian report. The Amazon shrunk by 1,345 square kilometres -- twice the area of Tokyo. Photograph: Bruno Kelly/Reuters

Environmental groups have long been campaigning to save the Amazon, blaming Brazil's far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, for the endangerment of the vital rainforest. They accuse him of relaxing environmental controls in the country and encouraging deforestation. Photograph: Bruno Kelly/Reuters

The Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro accused NGOs of burning the forest to shame him for slashing their funding. Bolsonaro said 'everything indicates' that NGOs are going to the Amazon to 'set fire' to the forest. When asked if he had evidence to back up his claims, he said he had 'no written plan,' adding 'that's not how it's done.' Photograph: Bruno Kelly/Reuters

The fires are so extreme that even NASA was able to capture it. This satellite photo shows several fires burning in the states of Rondonia, Amazonas, Para and Mato Grosso earlier this month.Photograph: NASA/Twitter
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