States in Amazon region ask for military help to fight fires
BRASILIA: Six states in Brazil's Amazon region requested military help on Saturday to combat record fires that are tearing through the rainforest.
The states of Para, Rondonia, Roraima, Tocantins, Acre and Mato Grosso - out of the region's nine - have requested military assistance, according to a spokesman for the President's office, a day after President Jair Bolsonaro authorised the military to step in.
FIGHTING CLIMATE CHANGE
The Amazon is the world's largest tropical rainforest and its protection is seen as vital to the fight against climate change because of the vast amounts of carbon dioxide it absorbs.
Brazil has 44,000 troops stationed in its northern Amazon region that are available to combat forest fires and could send more from elsewhere in the country, said Mr Raul Botelho, the joint chief of staff for the country's military.
Defence Minister Fernando Azevedo said forces would be concentrated in certain areas depending on the individual mission.
Mr Alfredo Sirkis, executive director of think tank Brazil Climate Center and a founder of Brazil's Green Party, said that while he supported military involvement, he doubted that anyone would be able to put out the existing fires.
"Once you have a huge forest fire like that, especially when you don't have all the kind of forest fire-fighting equipment that you have in places like the US or Portugal, it's difficult to extinguish," he said.
"They'll only be extinguished by themselves depending on the weather conditions." - REUTERS