Police deny bodies found of missing Amazon pair

Brazilian media reported bodies had been found in the search for Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira.

In Summary

• Police say that so far they have discovered personal items belonging to the pair as well as "biological material" still being examined.

• Days before the pair went missing indigenous groups say Mr Pereira was threatened for campaigning against illegal fishing in the area.

Bruno Pereira (l) and Dom Phillips (r) pictured in 2018
Bruno Pereira (l) and Dom Phillips (r) pictured in 2018
Image: BBC

Brazilian police have denied local reports of the discovery of the bodies of a journalist and an indigenous expert missing in the Amazon.

Brazilian media reported bodies had been found in the search for Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira.

Police say that so far they have discovered personal items belonging to the pair as well as "biological material" still being examined.

The two men have been missing since 5 June.

Earlier on Monday, a well known Brazilian environmental journalist said Mr Phillips' wife had told him the bodies had been found.

Other media reports also suggested that Mr Phillips' family had been informed of the discovery.

The region's indigenous association Univaja, which first alerted authorities that the pair was missing, told the BBC that no bodies had been found.

Local groups say both men had received threats for their work supporting indigenous rights in the region, where they were travelling by boat on a reporting trip.

Both Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira were known for their deep knowledge of the region.

Mr Phillips had been living in Brazil for more than a decade and was a long-time contributor to the Guardian newspaper - he was in the area researching a book.

Mr Pereira, who was on leave from his post with the government's indigenous affairs agency Funai, was an expert on isolated tribes in the Amazon.

Days before the pair went missing indigenous groups say Mr Pereira was threatened for campaigning against illegal fishing in the area.

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Phillips' sister, Sian, said: "I think it's likely they've been ambushed by some illegal criminal activity there, possibly to do with illegal fishing."

It is an "incredibly distressing and awful situation," she added.

The region where they disappeared is home to around 6,300 indigenous people from more than 20 groups.

As well as clashes with fishermen catching protected stock, it has also seen incursions by illegal gold miners, loggers and drug traffickers who smuggle cocaine from neighbouring Peru.

Alarm over the men's disappearance was initially sounded by two indigenous rights groups, who said the pair had been travelling by boat in the Javari Valley to interview members of an indigenous group.

The area is located in the west of Amazonas state, near the border with Peru.


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