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Brazil President announces 60-day ban on burning in Amazon
International

Brazil President announces 60-day ban on burning in Amazon

Agency News

As hundreds of new blazes have been reported in Amazon rainforest, Brazil President Jair Blosanaro on Thursday announced a 60-day ban on burning.

Meanwhile, more than 1,600 new fires were ignited between Tuesday and Wednesday, taking this year's total to almost 85,000 -- the highest number since 2010, official data shows. More than half of them are in the vast Amazon basin.

The ban, that was the result of a global outcry over fires raging in the Amazon and data showing hundreds of new blazes in the rainforest, takes effect on Thursday. The decree issued by President Jair Bolsonaro comes after escalating international pressure over the worst fires in the Amazon in years that have ignited a diplomatic spat between Brazil and Europe.

But activists quickly doused hopes that the ban would work. "The people who burn without a license is not going to obey," said Rodrigo Junqueira of the Socio-Environmental Institute.

Thousands of troops and firefighters have been deployed since the weekend to combat the fires, along with two C-130 Hercules and other aircraft that are dumping water over the hardest hit areas in the country's north.

More than 1,600 new fires were ignited between Tuesday and Wednesday, taking this year's total to almost 85,000 -- the highest number since 2010, official data shows. More than half of them are in the vast Amazon basin.

International offers of help for combatting the fires is a hot-button issue in Brazil, with Bolsonaro and others insisting on the country's sovereign rights over the Amazon.

Bolsonaro on Wednesday accused France and Germany of "buying" Brazil's sovereignty after the G7 offered $20 million in Amazon fire aid.

Vice President Hamilton Mourao -- widely considered a moderate voice in Bolsonaro's government -- also weighed in publicly for the first time on Wednesday, insisting in an opinion piece that "our Amazon will continue to be Brazilian".

The governors of several states in the Amazon told Bolsonaro in a meeting on Tuesday that international help was needed. Their plea came after Norway and Germany halted around $70 million in Amazon protection subsidies earlier this month.