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Drought catastrophe in Amazon region

Brazil: Fish die-off endangers the lives of tens of thousand Indians

Bolzano/Bozen, Göttingen, October 21, 2005

The River AmazonasSeveral thousand Indians in Brazil's Amazon region are highly endangered by the fish die-off in the tributaries of the Amazon, warned the Society for Threatened Peoples (GfbV) on Friday. The drinking water of some 170,000 people in 1,200 settlements along the Amazon tributaries is contaminated, since millions of dead fish are rotting in the dried out riverbeds. The authorities already fear the outbreak of epidemics, since anybody drinking from the water faces the prospect of diarrhoea and cholera. Apart from this food is running out. At least 8,000 Indians on the tributaries of the Amazon are dependent on fishery.

The Amazon area is experiencing the worst drought for 40 years. So on the 15th October in the Federal State of Amazon a state of emergency was declared. The army tries to supply the villages along the rivers with drinking water and food by helicopter, reported the GfbV. Yet it is doubtful whether all remote Indian villages will in fact be reached and whether help will arrive in time. The perspectives for the 700,000 Indians of Amazon are bleak since the meteorologists are expecting high temperatures and below-average rainfall for the coming three months.

The drought catastrophe is the result of the continuing clearing of the rain forest and of the climate change, said the GfbV. Brazil belongs to the four countries which releases the most propellant gases, which are in the view of scientists held to be responsible for the change in the climate. Gigantic forest fires and clearances in the Amazon region make up 75% of the Brazilian hothouse emissions. In a study published yesterday American and Brazilian scientists warned that the rain forest of Brazil has holes in it like a Swiss cheese. The area of the rain forest, which has already been destroyed, is twice as large as had hitherto been estimated. The demolition of the Amazon rain forest means the destruction of the means of existence of the Indians.

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