Bolivia also under threat from rapidly spreading fires

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While the world’s attention has been focused on the destruction to the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, neighbouring Bolivia is struggling with fires raging through the Robore region.

The fires have doubled in size since Thursday, destroying villages and vast tropical forests near Bolivia’s borders with Paraguay and Brazil.

Fires have ripped through at least a million hectares in Bolivia.

People rally to call for defense of Bolivian forests against fires, in La Paz
People gather to protest against fires that have razed over 700,000 hectares of land in the Chiquitania region, in La Paz, Bolivia. Protesters took to the main streets of La Paz, on Sunday calling for international help to combat the fires in Bolivia and Brazil. EPA-EFE/GINA BALDIVIESO

As the country prepares to go to the polls, Bolivia’s President Evo Morales has put his re-election campaign on hold for at least a week so he can focus on the situation. Morales did an about-face on Sunday and said he was now open to international aid to fight the blazes.

Morales’ government had been slow to accept the aid, initially saying it would use its own resources to fight the fires, but pleas from villagers and officials of Santa Cruz province led to an about-face. Argentina, Paraguay, Peru, Chile and Spain have all offered support.

Airtanker arrives in Bolivia to help with Amazonia forest fires
A view of the biggest airtanker in the world, a Boeing 747-446 Supertanker (Tail number N744ST), as it takes off from the Viru Viru airport, in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. The aircraft will help extinguish the fires that have burnt over 700 thousand hectares at the Amazon for at least ten days. EPA-EFE/Juan Carlos Torrejon

Bolivia late last week contracted a Boeing 747 “Supertanker” from the United States to help with the firefighting, and has mobilized more than 2,000 firefighters, as well as small aircraft and helicopters, but still could not cope with the intensity of the fires.

Thousands of wildfires are also decimating the neighbouring Brazilian Amazon, the world’s largest rainforest. The blazes have nearly doubled this year compared with the same period in 2018, prompting global outrage.


Via Reuters

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