Story By: William McGee, Sub-Editor: Lee Bullen, Agency: Newsflash
These are the shocking images of the fires currently engulfing the Brazilian Amazon and Pantanal, as smoke from the fires reaches five neighbouring countries.
The grey cloud of smoke has spread across 4,000 kilometres (2,485 miles) and has reached Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, Argentina and Uruguay.
The Brazilian National Institute for Space Research has identified 26,656 fires in the Amazon this September, an increase of 34 per cent from the same time last year.
Meanwhile, the Pantanal has suffered 15,756 fires this year, triple the number registered in the same period last year.
The fires in the Pantanal, which is undergoing its worst drought in 47 years, have burned through an area of 23,500 square km (9,073 square miles), representing 16 per cent of Brazil’s wetland.
The fires, which are common during the dry season, have been exacerbated this year by strong winds.
They are routinely caused by intentional (and often illegal) deforestation, accidents (such as vehicle crashes) and natural weather phenomena (such as lightning strikes).
Brazil’s current government has been regularly criticised by environmental organisations for its lax environmental policies.
The Amazon is the world’s largest and most biodiverse tropical rainforest. The Pantanal contains the world’s largest tropical wetland area and the world’s largest flooded grasslands.
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