Editor’s note: This story previously embedded a picture of the Amazon rainforest that had been taken prior to the current forest fire. The photo has now been removed.
“It was as if day had turned into night,” Sao Paulo resident Gianvitor Dias told the BBC.
“Everyone here commented because even on rainy days it doesn’t usually get that dark,” Dias said. “It was very impressive.”
Several shared photos of the city on social media, saying it looked “apocalyptic.”
— André Só (@AndreTheSolo) August 20, 2019
RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil’s official monitoring agency is reporting a sharp increase in wildfires this year, and President Jair Bolsonaro suggested Wednesday, without citing evidence, that non-governmental organizations could be setting them to make him look bad.
Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research, a federal agency monitoring deforestation and wildfires, said the country has seen a record number of wildfires this year, counting 74,155 as of Tuesday, an 84 percent increase compared to the same period last year. Bolsonaro took office on Jan. 1.
“Maybe — I am not affirming it — these (NGO people) are carrying out some criminal actions to draw attention against me, against the government of Brazil,” Bolsonaro told reporters.
When asked if he had evidence, the president did not provide any.
“There is a war going on in the world against Brazil, an information war,” Bolsonaro said.
Earlier this month, the head of the space research institute was forced to leave his position after standing up to the president’s accusations that deforestation data had been manipulated to tarnish the image of his administration.
The states that have been most affected by fires this year are Mato Grosso, Para and Amazonas — all in the Amazon region — accounting for 41.7 percent of all fires.