As Brazil grapples with thousands of wildfires burning in the Amazon rainforest for the last few days, United States President Donald Trump on Saturday offered help to the South American country.
In his tweet posted about some 6 hours ago, Trump said that he had just spoken with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, adding that the existing trade prospects and relationship between the countries are "perhaps stronger than ever". "I told him if the United States can help with the Amazon Rainforest fires, we stand ready to assist!" the President added.
Just spoke with President @JairBolsonaro of Brazil. Our future Trade prospects are very exciting and our relationship is strong, perhaps stronger than ever before. I told him if the United States can help with the Amazon Rainforest fires, we stand ready to assist!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 23, 2019
Meanwhile, Bolsonaro has authorised the deployment of Brazil's armed forces to help combat the fires amid a growing global outcry, sparking protests across Brazil's all major cities and threatening a huge trade deal.
Plumes of thick smoke rose into the sky above dense forest in the north western state of Rondonia, where bright orange flames from various fires were visible for kilometres - videos and photographs emerged on various social media platforms showed.
As per the latest official figures, 76,720 forest fires were recorded in Brazil so far this year - the highest number for any year since 2013 - which experts blame on accelerating deforestation as land is cleared during the months-long dry season to make way for crops or grazing. More than half are in the Amazon - the largest rainforest of the world.
Around 700 new fires were ignited between Wednesday and Thursday, according to the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), fuelling air contamination in cities including Sao Paulo, where thick smog turned day into night on Monday. European leaders also expressed growing concern over the blaze.
Environmental specialists say the fires have accompanied a rapid rate of deforestation in the Amazon region, which in July quadrupled compared to the same month in 2018, according to INPE data, which Bolsonaro previously described as lies and prompted the sacking of the agency's head.
Bolsonaro instead attributes the blazes to increased drought, and accuses environmental groups and NGOs of whipping up an "environmental psychosis" to harm Brazil's economic interests. Earlier in the week, Bolsonaro accused NGOs of starting the fires.
Brazil's powerful agriculture sector - a key supporter of Bolsonaro - has expressed concerns over the president's rhetoric, fearing a boycott of their products in key markets.
Neighboring Paraguay and Bolivia are also battling separate wildfires that have devastated large areas of their rainforests. The Bolivian government on Friday took delivery of a "super-tanker" aircraft to help extinguish fires that have destroyed around 7,770 square kilometres of the eastern province of Santa Cruz for the past month.