Seven of the nine states in the Amazon region of Brazil on Saturday sought military help to tame the wildfires raging through the rainforest, AFP reported. President Jair Bolsonaro had on Friday promised to deploy the military to step in.

Raul Botelho, the chief of staff for the Brazilian military, said 44,000 troops were present in the northern Amazon region to combat the wildfires, Reuters reported. The military has deployed firefighters and planes in the region, with six of the aircraft, each equipped to carry 12,000 litres of water, sent to Rondonia state.

Meanwhile, official data showed that hundreds of new fires are raging in the rainforest, according to AFP. This year, 78,383 forest fires have been recorded in Brazil, the most in a year since 2013, according to official data.

On Friday, leaders in Europe had threatened to scrap a trade deal with South America to pile up pressure on Bolsonaro. There have been protests outside Brazilian embassies in major cities across the world, Reuters reported. A sign outside the Brazilian mission in Cyprus said: “The Amazon belongs to Earth, not to the Brazilian president.”

However, Bolsonaro responded: “There are forest fires all over the world, and this cannot be used as a pretext for possible international sanctions.”

Leaders of G-7 nations are expected to discuss the fires over the weekend. French President Emmanuel Macron had called for action ahead of the G-7 summit in Biarritz, France. “Our house is burning. Literally,” he said. “The Amazon rainforest – the lungs which produces 20% of our planet’s oxygen – is on fire. It is an international crisis. Members of the G-7 Summit, let’s discuss this emergency.”

United States President Donald Trump and United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who are in Biarritz, have offered help in fighting the fires.

Earlier in the week, Bolsonaro had accused non-governmental organisations of starting the fires. Later, however, he admitted that farmers might have been involved. The president is known for his sceptical views on climate change. Environmentalists say his plans to promote agriculture and mining in the Amazon region will speed up deforestation.

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