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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 October 2005, 10:53 GMT 11:53 UK
More help to fight Amazon drought
Dead fish in the Amazon basin
Fish are rotting in the basin of the world's second-largest river
Extra funding has been announced in Brazil to help people living in the Amazon basin deal with the worst drought in half a century.

The Brazilian government pledged $14m for relief efforts there.

The military has been distributing supplies and medicine to tens of thousands of people stranded by the dramatic drop in water levels.

But on Sunday an army general said the relief effort was being hampered by the lack of federal support.

Disease fear

A state of emergency was declared in all 61 municipalities of Brazil's Amazonas state as the drought started affecting towns and cities further downstream.

Witnesses say rivers and lakes have dried up completely, and millions of fish are rotting in the sun.

Map of Amazon River

Low river levels are preventing boats - for many the only means of transport - from using the Amazon safely, leaving communities depending on airlifts for their survival.

The Brazilian government has already sent 50,000 food baskets to the area.

The national integration minister, Ciro Gomes, said that the priority was to stop the spread of diseases caused by contaminated drinking water.

'Linked' to hurricanes

The environmental campaign group Greenpeace has blamed deforestation and global warming for the drought.

It quoted scientists as saying that the burning of forests has raised temperatures in the Amazon, preventing the formation of clouds.

Brazilian government meteorologists, however, have said the drought is the result of unusually high temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean, that have also been linked to this year's devastating hurricanes.

River levels in the Amazon are expected to increase in the next few weeks as winter rains begin upstream.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See the devastation caused by the drought



SEE ALSO:
Amazon drought emergency widens
15 Oct 05 |  Americas
Army to fight Amazonian drought
12 Oct 05 |  Americas
Amazon area threatened by drought
07 Oct 05 |  Americas
Fires rage in Brazil's rainforest
22 Sep 05 |  Americas
Brazil's depleted rivers
05 Aug 03 |  Americas


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