Pictures: Destruction of the Amazon's Xingu River begins for Belo Monte Dam

19 April 2012

The Xingu River will never be the same. Construction of Belo Monte Dam has begun in the Brazilian Amazon, as shown by these photos taken by Greenpeace, some of the first images of the hugely controversial project.

Indigenous groups have opposed the dam vigorously for decades, fearing that it will upend their way of life. Environmentalists warn that the impacts of the dam—deforestation, methane emissions, and an irreparable changes to the Xingu River's ecosystem—far outweigh any benefits. The dam, which would be the world's third largest, is expected to displace 16,000 people according to the government, although some NGOs put the number at 40,000. The dam will flood over 40,000 hectares of pristine rainforest, an area about seven times the size of Manhattan.