PORTO VELHO: Brazil on Sunday deployed two Hercules C-130 aircraft to douse fires devouring parts of the Amazon rainforest, as hundreds of new blazes were ignited ahead of nationwide protests over the destruction.

Heavy smoke covered the city of Porto Velho in the northwestern state of Rondonia where the defence ministry said the planes have started dumping thousands of liters of water, amid a global uproar over the worst fires in years.

Swathes of the remote region bordering Bolivia have been scorched by the blazes, sending thick smoke billowing into the sky and increasing air pollution across the world’s largest rainforest.

Experts say increased land clearing during the months-long dry season to make way for crops or grazing has aggravated the problem this year.

“It gets worse every year — this year, the smoke has been really serious,” Deliana Amorim, 46, told AFP in Porto Velho where half a million people live. At least seven states have requested the army’s help in the Amazon, where more than 43,000 troops are based and available to combat fires, officials said.

The fires have triggered a global outcry and are a major topic of concern at the G7 meeting in Biarritz in southern France. G-7 leaders have agreed to help the countries affected by the fires “as fast as possible,” French President Emmanuel Macron said on Sunday.

His remarks come amid an escalating war of words with his Brazilian counterpart Jair Bolsonaro, who he has accused of lying over Brazil’s stance on climate change. Bolsonaro has denounced what he calls Macron’s “colonialist mentality”.

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