Pope Francis waves to worshipers as he speaks from the window at the Vatican on Sunday. Vincenzo Pinto/AFP
Pope Francis on Sunday called for a global commitment to put out the fires in the Amazon, saying the area was essential for the health of the planet.
"We are all worried about the vast fires that have developed in the Amazon. Let us pray so that with the commitment of all, they can be put out soon. That lung of forests is vital for our planet," he told thousands of people in St. Peter's Square for his weekly address.
Six states in Brazil's Amazon have requested military help to combat record fires that are tearing through the rainforest, provoking an international outcry because of the Amazon's central role in combating global warming.
Brazil is the world's largest Catholic country.
Francis, who wrote a major document known as an encyclical in 2015 on protection of the environment from global warming, has often defended the rights of the native peoples of the Amazon region to keep their lands and protect their cultures. He has also called for a progressive reduction in the use of fossil fuels.
The fires have coincided with this weekend's G7 summit, where the host, French President Emmanuel Macron, has said the Amazon needs better management to end the "ecocide" that is going on in the rainforest and wants world leaders to discuss the emergency.
Four firefighters were hospitalised after battling the overnight blaze at Badim Hospital and about 90 patients were transferred to other hospitals, according to the fire department. Authorities said that a short circuit in a generator could have sparked the blaze.
The fire broke out at dusk on Thursday at the Badim hospital in the north of Rio, sending medical staff and relatives into a desperate flurry to try to evacuate scores of patients.
Two C-130 Hercules aircraft carrying thousands of liters of water on Sunday began dousing fires devouring chunks of the world's largest rainforest.
The Amazon in South America is the largest, most diverse tropical rainforest on Earth and it is natural that the entire world is worried and angry over the worst blazes in years raging there. It is hugely important that the fires in the Brazilian rainforest, known as the lungs of the planet, be extinguished as quickly
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