Videos Show Illegal Mining Rafts Burning On Amazon Tributary After Police Set Them On Fire In Mega Operation - ViralTab

Videos Show Illegal Mining Rafts Burning On Amazon Tributary After Police Set Them On Fire In Mega Operation

These videos show how illegal mining rafts burn on the biggest tributary of the Amazon River after the police set them on fire.

The Federal Police began the mega operation targeting illegal mining on the Madeira River in the municipality of Autazes in the Brazilian state of Amazonas on Saturday morning, 27th November.

The burning of the illegal mining rafts was initially carried out in secrecy to avoid a violent reaction from the illegal miners, who reportedly fled down the river towards the city of Porto Velho in the neighbouring state of Rondonia.

Police seized and destroyed 131 rafts used for illegal mining on the Madeira River in the Amazon, in Brazil, on 27th November. (@andersongtorres/Newsflash)

A total of 131 illegal mining rafts were reportedly set on fire by Federal Police officers, according to Justice and Public Safety Minister Anderson Torres, with several plumes of black smoke visible over the area for hours, despite the heavy rain.

Upon seeing the armed police officers approaching on speedboats, the illegal miners fled into the jungle, and the police then doused the structures with fuel before setting them alight.

The operation, which continued on Sunday, saw the police arrest a man with a “large” quantity of gold, according to media outlet O Globo.

Police seized and destroyed 131 rafts used for illegal mining on the Madeira River in the Amazon, in Brazil, on 27th November. (@andersongtorres/Newsflash)

The rafts reportedly sprung up on the Madeira River in large numbers after rumours of gold being discovered in the area proliferated.

The burnt vessels boasted accommodation, cafeterias, air conditioning, satellite internet and, most importantly, a dredger operating 24 hours a day, rummaging around the riverbed for gold.

Some of the illegal miners, known locally as ‘garimpeiros’, complained they had been left with just the clothes on their backs following the operation, according to Globo.

Police seized and destroyed 131 rafts used for illegal mining on the Madeira River in the Amazon, in Brazil, on 27th November. (@andersongtorres/Newsflash)

Though the garimpeiros’ negative impact on the environment has been well documented, some indigenous groups, such as the Yanomami, feeling neglected by the government, had viewed their presence positively, according to Globo.

Many of the garimpeiros, fearing a police operation was imminent, had tried to flee on their rafts on Friday. However, their slow vessels were no match for the police’s speedboats, and officers were able to seize several illegal mining rafts in the municipality of Nova Olinda.

Others reportedly managed to hide their rafts in smaller tributary rivers.

Police seized and destroyed 131 rafts used for illegal mining on the Madeira River in the Amazon, in Brazil, on 27th November. (@andersongtorres/Newsflash)

Locals reported that some 300 illegal mining rafts had sprung up in the area, which lives off fishing and manioc and banana production, on 23rd November.

Each raft reportedly housed six to eight people, which means over 2,000 people had suddenly been added to the local population of around 40,000.

Apart from the rumour that gold had been found in the area, new laws regularising small-scale mining in Rondonia meant that there had been a rush of garimpeiros to the state, resulting in many miners decamping to Amazonas, where there was less competition.

Police seized and destroyed 131 rafts used for illegal mining on the Madeira River in the Amazon, in Brazil, on 27th November. (@andersongtorres/Newsflash)

The mega operation was carried out at the request of the Autazes local authorities.

The local Greenpeace branch has reportedly welcomed the police’s actions, which also received the praise of Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro.