Brazilian police said on Sunday that search teams had discovered the belongings of British journalist Dom Phillips and indigenous expert Bruno Pereira, who went missing in the Amazon rainforest a week ago.
A police statement said Pereira’s clothing was found, including a health identification tag bearing his name, and a backpack containing Phillips’ clothing, along with both men’s shoes. .
A firefighter leading a search team told reporters that an Equinox backpack, containing clothing and a laptop computer, was found strapped to a sunken tree trunk in the area where the two men were located. Last seen on Sunday, June 5.
Earlier, Elizeu Mayaruna, who works for the Funai Indigenous agency, told Reuters that, while searching the forest along the Itacoai river on Saturday, he found clothes, a tarp and a bottle of motor oil.
Mayaruna and two other members of an indigenous search team familiar with Pereira, a former Funai official, said they recognized a shirt and pants that belonged to him.
Witnesses said they saw Pereira and Phillips, a freelance reporter who wrote for the Guardian and the Washington Post, down that river last Sunday.
The two men were on a reporting trip in a remote jungle area near the border with Peru and Colombia, home to the world’s largest population of non-communicating indigenous people. The wild and lawless area has attracted gangs of cocaine smugglers, along with illegal loggers, miners and hunters.
News of the couple’s disappearance resonated globally, as Brazilian icons from soccer great Pele to singer Caetano Veloso joined politicians, environmentalists and activists Human rights call on President Jair Bolsonaro to step up the search.
Reuters witnesses saw the stretch of riverbank as Mayaruna discovered the clothes tied up by police on Sunday morning as investigators scoured the area, with half a dozen boats carrying police, soldiers and firefighters. back and forth.
As reported by O Estado de S.Paulo on Sunday afternoon, divers also discovered a large black Equinox backpack with books, laptop and clothes inside.
There was no immediate comment from the Brazilian government on the search results.
President Jair Bolsonaro, who last year faced fierce interrogation from Phillips at press conferences about weakening environmental law enforcement in Brazil, last week said the two men were “engaging” an unrecommended adventure” and suggested that they might have been executed.
State police detectives involved in the investigation have told Reuters they are focusing on poachers and illegal fishers in the area, who frequently clash with Pereira as he organizes indigenous patrols in the local reserve.
Police have arrested a fisherman, Amarildo da Costa, known as “Pelado”, on charges of possession of a weapon and are holding him in custody as they investigate whether he was involved in the man’s disappearance. or not.
Costa’s attorneys and family say he fishes legally in the river and deny he played any role in the men’s disappearance.
About 150 soldiers have been deployed across river boats to search for the missing men and interview locals, joining indigenous search teams that have been searching for the couple for a week.