A record number of wildfires have raged for weeks and are decimating the Brazilian Amazon, the world's largest tropical rain forest whose protection scientists say is critical to the fight against climate change.
President Jair Bolsonaro faces growing criticism over the rampant destruction of the Amazon.
The blazes have nearly doubled this year compared with the same period in 2018, according to Brazilian officials, prompting a global outcry.
The number of forest fires in Brazil surged in the first eight months of 2019, official data shows.
Bolsonaro said on Thursday that the government lacks the resources to fight the wildfires. He added that while he could not prove that nongovernmental groups were lighting the fires, they were "the most likely suspects."
Indigenous groups who live in the Amazon rain forest and depend on it for survival said the wildfires in Brazil and eastern Bolivia were a "tragedy."
Kumi Naidoo, secretary-general of rights group Amnesty International, said responsibility to stop the wildfires "lies squarely" with Brazil's government, which "must change their disastrous policy of opening up the rain forest for destruction."
That is the highest number of forest fires for any year since 2013 and follows two years of declines.
Nearly 73,000 fires were recorded between January and August, compared with 39,759 in the first eight months of 2018, the embattled National Institute for Space Research (INPE) said late Monday.
The data comes as Bolsonaro faces growing criticism over his anti-environment rhetoric, which activists blame for emboldening loggers, miners and farmers in the Amazon.
The latest INPE figures coincide with a U.N. regional meeting on climate change in Brazil ahead of a summit in Chile in December.
INPE is already in Bolsonaro's crosshairs over data showing a surge in deforestation in recent months.
Bolsonaro dismissed the figures as lies and sacked the head of the agency tasked with tracking forest clearing.
Norway on Thursday joined Germany in halting Amazon protection subsidies, accusing Brazil of turning its back on the fight against deforestation.
The governors of nine states spanning the Amazon also published a statement Sunday saying they would negotiate directly with the Amazon Fund contributors.
Brazil leads the region in forest fires this year, according to the INPE data that is collected via satellite and updated in real-time. Venezuela ranked second with 26,453 fires and Bolivia with 16,101.
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