Brazil on Sunday deployed two C-130 Hercules aircraft to douse fires devouring parts of the Amazon rainforest, as hundreds of new blazes flared up and thousands protested 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 litres 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, which is seen as crucial to mitigating climate change.

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.

Seven states, including Rondonia, have requested the army’s help in the Amazon, where more than 43,000 troops are based and available to combat fires, officials said.

Dozens of firefighters went to Porto Velho on Sunday to help put out the blazes.

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