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Eerie pictures of Sao Paulo being blanketed in thick smoke from Amazon wildfires are going viral, with many concerned that a surge in deforestation is wreaking environmental disaster
Sao Paulo - which is Brazil's largest city - was plunged into darkness around midday on Monday, with monitoring data from the World Meteorological Organization showing a large smoke plume spreading south-east to the Atlantic.
Pictures - Show - Cars - Headlights - Order
Pictures taken around 4.30pm show that cars were forced to turn on their headlights in order to deal with low-visibility.
Wildfires raging in the Amazon rainforest have hit a record number this year, with 72,843 fires detected so far by Brazil's space research center INPE.
Surge - % - Increase - Period - Records
The surge marks an 83% increase over the same period of 2018, and is the highest since records began in 2013.
Meanwhile, satellite images have detected 9,507 new forest fires in the country in the past four days alone, mostly in the Amazon basin, home to the world's largest tropical forest seen as vital to countering global warming.
Statistics - Concerns - President - Jair - Bolsonaro
The shocking statistics come as concerns grow over right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro's environmental policy.
The unprecedented surge in wildfires has occurred since Bolsonaro took office in January vowing to develop the Amazon region for farming and mining, ignoring international concern over increased deforestation.
Bolsonaro - Criticism - Tuesday - Time - Year
Bolsonaro brushed off criticism on Tuesday, saying it was the time of the year of the 'queimada' -when farmers use fire to clear land.
'I used to be called Captain Chainsaw. Now I am Nero, setting the Amazon aflame. But it is the season of the queimada,' he told reporters.
INPE - Number - Wildfires - Season - Phenomena
However, INPE said the large number of wildfires could not be attributed to the dry season or natural phenomena alone.
'There is nothing abnormal about the climate this year or the rainfall in the Amazon region, which is just a little below average,' said INPE researcher...
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