What happened to the British journalist and his companion who went missing in the Amazon? Hopes are sinking that they will still be found – but the local indigenous people are not giving up yet.
The fate of the missing British journalist and an indigenous expert in the deepest Amazon region remains uncertain. The search for Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira will continue, the Brazilian news agency Agência Brasil reported on Monday evening (local time), citing the federal police. But the already small hopes of finding the two continue to dwindle.
The leader of the Javari Valley Indigenous Association, Beto Marubo, said in a press conference: “Our team is further in the area where the search is being carried out. Our work is tireless. Our ultimate goal is to find our friend Bruno Pereira and Dom Phillips who is also our friend.”
According to the media, personal belongings of the two were found a good week after their disappearance. According to the information, a boat belonging to a suspect who had already been arrested was discovered in the vicinity of the site on the border with Peru and Colombia. There have been conflicting reports that the bodies of the missing people have been found.
The result of the examination of the “organic material apparently human” found near the port of Atalaia do Norte and the blood on the seized boat is open. It should be published this week, the news agency “Agência Brasil” reported on Monday evening, citing the federal police.
Phillips and Pereira did not arrive by boat on June 5 as planned in the city of Atalaia do Norte in far western Brazil, according to a regional aboriginal organization. Pereira had previously reported to the police that he had been threatened several times. As a result, regional media speculate that he and his companion may have been ambushed. Concrete clues as to what exactly could have happened to them have not yet been released.
Phillips moved to Brazil 15 years ago and has worked for the British newspaper The Guardian, among other things. With Pereira, who also worked for the indigenous authorities in the region, he had previously traveled to the difficult-to-access Javari Valley, where they were now being searched for. Most recently, the 57-year-old researched a book about the protection of the Amazon region, the strong economic interests in its exploitation and various development models.
The Brazilian news portal “G1” and other media reported, citing the reporter’s wife, that the bodies of the two men had been found. But the federal police and the umbrella organization of the indigenous people denied this. According to the Guardian, an employee of the Brazilian ambassador in London informed Phillips’ family on Monday that two bodies had been found that could be those of the missing persons.
Larger than Austria, the Javari Valley is one of the most extensive indigenous areas in Brazil. Many indigenous people live there completely isolated from modern civilization. Illegal prospecting for gold, deforestation and drug smuggling are causing a particularly large number of conflicts in the border area with Peru and Colombia.