Dom Phillips: ‘Bodies found’ in hunt for British journalist and indigenous expert missing in Amazon

·3-min read
Dom Phillips: ‘Bodies found’ in hunt for British journalist and indigenous expert missing in Amazon

Bodies have reportedly been found in the hunt for British journalist Dom Phillips and his indigenous expert travelling partner missing in the Brazilian Amazon.

The Brazilian ambassador to the UK broke the news to Mr Phillips’s family in the UK that two bodies had been found during a phone call early on Monday, the Guardian reported.

“He said he wanted us to know that … they had found two bodies,” Paul Sherwood, Phillips’s brother-in-law, told the newspaper.

“He didn’t describe the location and just said it was in the rainforest and he said they were tied to a tree and they hadn’t been identified yet.”

Mr Phillip’s wife also told news outlet G1 bodies had been found. But Federal police issued a statement Monday denying media reports the two men's bodies had been found.

On Sunday, clothing belonging to Mr Pereira had been found, including a health identification card in his name, and a backpack with clothes belonging to Mr Phillips, along with the boots of both men.

A Foreign Office minister has met Brazil’s chief of police to discuss the disappearance of a British journalist in the Amazon (Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Wire)
A Foreign Office minister has met Brazil’s chief of police to discuss the disappearance of a British journalist in the Amazon (Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Wire)

The two men were on a reporting trip in the remote jungle area near the border with Peru and Colombia that is home to the world's largest number of uncontacted indigenous people. The wild and lawless region has lured cocaine-smuggling gangs, along with illegal loggers, miners and hunters.

Last week, the police found possible human remains in a river near the town of Atalaia do Norte. Experts have since been analysing the “organic material”.

Blood traces found on a boat belonging to a fisherman, who has been arrested, are also being tested.

Mr Pereira, 41, and Mr Phillips, 57, were last seen on June 5 near the entrance of the Javari Valley Indigenous Territory. They were returning alone by boat on the Itaquai to Atalaia do Norte but never arrived.

Authorities have said a main line of the police investigation into the disappearance has pointed to an international network that pays poor fishermen to fish illegally in the Javari Valley reserve, which is Brazil's second-largest Indigenous territory.

One of the most valuable targets is the world's largest freshwater fish with scales, the arapaima. It weighs up to 440 pounds and can reach 10 feet. The fish is sold in nearby cities, including Leticia, Colombia, Tabatinga, Brazil, and Iquitos, Peru.

The only known suspect in the disappearances is a fisherman who is under arrest.

According to accounts by Indigenous people who were with Mr Pereira and Mr Phillips, he allegedly brandished a rifle at them the day before the pair disappeared.

The suspect denies any wrongdoing and said military police tortured him to try to get a confession, his family told The Associated Press.

Mr Pereira, who previously led the local bureau of the Brazilian government's Indigenous agency, known as Funai, has taken part in several operations against illegal fishing.

In such operations, as a rule the fishing gear is seized or destroyed, while the fishermen are fined and briefly detained. Only the Indigenous can legally fish in their territories.

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