Source: news.sky.com : 2022-06-12 23:44:00 :
The bodies of a British journalist and his colleague – who have been missing in the Amazon rainforest for more than a week – have not been found, it has been claimed, despite earlier reports.
Journalist Dom Phillips, 57, and indigenous expert Bruno Pereira, 41, were last seen on 5 June near the Javari Valley Indigenous Territory, which is in western Brazil close to the borders of Peru and Colombia.
News outlet G1 said the two men had been found dead, quoting Mr Phillips’ wife.
However, the Brazilian Federal Police told Sky News: “The Federal Police does not confirm this information.”
And a spokesman for the indigenous association Univaja said searchers have not discovered the men’s remains.
Eliesio Marubo, a lawyer for Univaja, which has organised search teams, added: “I’ve spoken with the team in the field and it’s not true. The search goes on.”
The two men were in the Sao Rafael community and were returning by boat to the nearby city of Atalaia do Norte, when they disappeared.
Local volunteers, the army, civil defence officials and state police have been searching for them and police have launched a criminal investigation.
Divers searching for the pair found a backpack, laptop and other personal items that belonged to the pair in a remote part of the Amazon on Sunday.
The backpack was tied to a tree that was half-submerged, as it is flood season in the region. That and the laptop were retrieved by police and brought by boat to Atalaia do Norte.
A police statement said 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, and the boots of both men.
The Crisis Committee, which was coordinated by the Federal Police, added: “The information being disseminated that the bodies of Mr. Bruno Pereira and Mr. Dom Phillips have been found is incorrect.
“As already reported, biological materials were found and are being examined, as well as the personal belongings of the missing men. As soon as they are found, the family and the media will be immediately informed.”
Police have already found traces of blood in the boat of a fisherman, Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira, also known as Pelado, who has been arrested and is the only suspect so far.
Mr da Costa de Oliveira pulled a rifle on Mr Phillips and Mr Pereira the day before they disappeared, according to indigenous people who were with them.
He denies doing anything wrong and claims military police tortured him to get a confession, his family has said.
On Saturday, police reported finding traces of blood in the boat of Mr da Costa de Oliveira and organic matter of apparent human origin inside the river.
Both materials are under forensic analysis.
Mr Pereira previously led the local bureau of the government’s indigenous agency, known as FUNAI, and has been involved in several operations against illegal fishing.
The area where Mr Phillips and Mr Pereira went missing has seen previous violent conflicts between fishermen, poachers, and the government.
There has also been some violence as gangs battle for control of waterways to ship cocaine.
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