Two bodies have been found during the search for a journalist and an indigenous expert who disappeared in the Amazon, the BBC reported on Monday, citing local media. The bodies were tied to a tree. The forensic investigation will have to confirm if it is indeed the Briton and his friend. Earlier in the day on Monday, two backpacks belonging to them had been found.
Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira have been missing since June 5 while traveling by boat to report on threats against local farmers in a remote area of Brazil’s Amazon rainforest, near the borders with Colombia and Peru. Clothing and personal items belonging to the two men were discovered this weekend by Brazilian police. Dom Phillips, 57, has lived in Brazil for more than ten years and has worked for the British newspaper The Guardian for a long time. Mr. Pereira, 41, who was on leave from his job at Funai, the government agency in charge of indigenous affairs, was an expert on isolated tribes in the Amazon and was doing research for a book on the region. They were traveling together by boat through the Javarí Valley region, a remote region in the far west of the Amazonas, conducting interviews for a book on environmental conservation. They were last seen on June 5, in the locality of Sao Gabriel, not far from their destination, the city of Atalaia do Norte.
Days before their disappearance, indigenous groups claimed that the two men had been threatened because of their work in the area, where illegal fishing, logging, mining and drug trafficking take place. Police said on Sunday that the search teams, on the seventh day of work, traveled about 25 kilometers and engaged in “careful searches through the jungle, the roads of the region and the flooded vegetation”, especially in the area where a boat believed to belong to the suspect was found. According to André Trigueiro, journalist for the Globo television channel and personal friend of Dom Philips’ wife, Alessandra Sampaio, the British embassy and the Brazilian federal police informed her on Monday morning of the discovery of the two bodies. The bodies will now be transferred to Manaus, the region’s capital, or Brasilia, where a forensic examination will take place to determine the identity of the bodies. The transfer is also done to avoid further heat decomposition.