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Fires Around Major River Ravage Wetlands, Endanger Human Health in Argentina 

Firemen fight flames near Victoria, Entre Rios province, Argentina, Aug. 19, 2022 The fires in the Parana Delta have consumed thousands of hectares of Argentine wetlands.

Grassland fires near a key South American river delta pose grave dangers to nearby wetland ecosystems and human health, according to environmental leaders, just a year after the water level of the once mighty Parana River dropped to its lowest point in decades.

The wildfires around the major riverside port of Rosario, crucial to transporting Argentina's massive grain harvest, have triggered alarm bells among ordinary residents as well as activists already concerned with prolonged drought worsened by this year's scarce rainfall and underscoring the consequences of a warmer, drier climate.

"The combined effect just makes it worse," said Enrique Viale, one of Argentina's leading environmental lawyers.

The Parana River, South America's second-longest waterway after the Amazon, saw its water level last year shrivel to its shallowest since 1944, according to official data, because of several drought cycles plus less rainfall in upstream Brazil. Its level remains very low.