17 April 2008 – Slash and burn in Argentina – 70,000 hectares burned

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In the Paraná River delta of Argentina, farmers have set fire to approximately 70,000 hectares of grassland, an area the size of the state of Hamburg in Germany. The resulting pall of smoke spread across the Río de la Plata to Montevideo and even Punta del Este. The airport in Buenos Aires was forced to cancel flights and numerous roads and highways were closed. Thick clouds of smoke caused scores of traffic accidents in which nine people were killed and over 50 were injured. Large numbers of people were hospitalized for respiratory and eye problems. Argentine President Cristina Kirchner condemned the farmers’ actions as irresponsible and irrational. The government has reportedly already initiated charges against them for premeditated environmental destruction and endangering human health.