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In Manaus, a carpet of rubbish covers the Amazon River’s tributaries

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By Rhal Ssan  & AFP
Rubbish carpets a tributary of the Amazon River in Manaus, Brazil
Rubbish carpets a tributary of the Amazon River in Manaus, Brazil   -   Copyright  AFP

Set in the heart of the Amazon rainforest, the Brazillian city of Manaus has a massive rubbish problem.

On a bridge in Sao Jorge, a shantytown west of the capital of Amazonas state, the bucket of a bulldozer pulls out of the water piles of waste, such as bottles, plastic cans and parts of household appliances accumulated in the water, sometimes next to stilt houses.

The rubbish is so thick here that it’s impossible to see the water.

Antonino Pereira is an independent worker helping to clear up the river. It’s a constant battle, as many use the local streams and rivers as a free rubbish dump.

"The people who live on the edges here throw garbage straight into the streams, few people put it in the rubbish,” he says. “I think just about 20%. The rest throw everything into the creek, it's people who don't help preserve nature."

And all this water and rubbish flows straight into the Amazon River. It’s a massive danger to the flora and fauna of the area.

Between January and May this year, the local municipality collected 4,500 tonnes of rubbish in local rivers. According to authorities, the situation is getting worse each year.