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Brazilian states ask for military help amid record blazes

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Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro has authorised the use of the military to battle the huge blazes sweeping parts of the Amazon while thousands took to the streets to protest against his environmental policies.

Brazilian forces will deploy to border areas, indigenous territories and other affected regions in the Amazon from Saturday to assist in putting out fires for a month, according to a presidential decree authorising use of the army.

Some 44,000 troops will be available for “unprecedented” operations to put out the fires, defence minister Fernando Azevedo said.

Six out of the nine Brazilian states in the Amazon region requested military help on Saturday to combat the record fires. The states are Roraima, Rondonia, Tocantins, Para, Acre and Mato Grosso, according to a spokeswoman for the president’s office,

The military’s first mission will be the deployment of 700 troops to the area around Porto Velho, capital of Rondonia, Mr Azevedo said. He added that the military will use two C-130 Hercules aircraft capable of dumping up to 12,000 litres of water on fires.

The military will “act strongly” to control the wildfires, Mr Bolsonaro had promised as he signed the decree.

The armed forces will collaborate with public security and environmental protection agencies, the decree says.

“The protection of the forest is our duty,” the president said.

“We are aware of that and will act to combat deforestation and criminal activities that put people at risk in the Amazon.

“We are a government of zero tolerance for crime, and in the environmental field it will not be different.”

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