Search for missing British journalist Dom Phillips, Bruno Pereira intensifies

Brazilian officials investigate traces of blood found in the ongoing search for a British journalist and Indigenous expert, while Hollywood celebrities, sports stars and lawmakers call for urgent action to find the men.

Dom Phillips, a regular contributor to the Guardian and Washington Post, and Bruno Pereira were last seen Sunday in the Sao Rafael region of the Amazon rainforest, where they disappeared after traveling by boat through a lawless region.

Now, two men who were with the couple a day before they went missing said they were trying to flag help from authorities on Thursday after being threatened by three local fishermen who flashed their guns at them a day before they disappeared.

Paulo Marubo, the president of Univaja, an association of indigenous peoples in the Javari Valley, said Phillips took a photo of the men at the time, including local resident Amarildo da Costa, who is believed to be the prime suspect in the couple’s disappearance. .

Dom Phillips was last seen with Bruno Pereira in the Sao Rafael region of the Amazon rainforest on Sunday.
AFP via Getty Images

After being threatened by locals, the two men who were with Phillips and Pereira said the pair went to a nearby federal base to seek help from officials.

The base permanently houses the Brazilian Bureau of Indigenous Affairs, known as FUNAI, as well as police officers from the National Guard.

“We went there, but they didn’t do anything,” said Raimundo Mayoruna, one of the men who visited Phillips and Pereira the night before they disappeared. “They weren’t going after Pelado at all. They didn’t want to help us.”

Navy sailors search for Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira on a speedboat in Brazil's indigenous Javari Valley on June 9, 2022.
Navy sailors search for Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira on a speedboat on June 9, 2022, in the indigenous area of ​​Brazil’s Javari Valley.
AP

CALL FOR ACTION

Actor Mark Ruffalo, soccer legend Pelé and US President Joe Biden are among the notable names urging the Brazilian government to step up its efforts to find the men who went missing on Sunday.

The “Shutter Island” actor took to Twitter when he called for an “international response”, stressing that the disturbing number of journalists were “attacked, killed or disappeared”.

“There must be an international response to this. The trend of journalists being attacked, murdered or missing in right-wing ‘democracies’ should be mentioned,” Ruffalo says. tweeted

Football superstar Pele said he was “moved” by the disappearances of Phillips and Pereira, while calling on leaders to step up search efforts.

“The fight to preserve the Amazon rainforest and indigenous groups belongs to all of us,” multiple award-winning Ballon d’Or athlete tweeted

“I am saddened by the disappearance of Dom Phillips and Bruno Ferreira, who have devoted their lives to this cause. I join the many voices calling for the search to be intensified.”

Brazilian actress Camila Pitanga too spoke out about the ordeal on Twitter, writing: “WHERE IS BRUNO AND DOM? @govbr @DefesaGovBR and @policiafederal, Bruno and Dom have been missing for over 48 hours and we need ALL the necessary resources to find them ASAP.

“The contempt for environmentalists must end.”

On Thursday, President Biden met with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro in Los Angeles to discuss what is being done to find the missing men.

As the couple met for emergency consultations, two trucks parked in the middle of an avenue displayed illustrations by Phillips and Pereira, alongside the message: “THREATENED. NOW MISSING. WHERE ARE DUM & BRUNO?”

Several US lawmakers called for action on Twitter, including Senate Foreign Relations Committee Senator Ed Markey.

“I am alarmed by reports Brazil’s Bolsonaro wants to avoid talking about Amazon deforestation and attempts to undermine the integrity of Brazil’s upcoming elections at this week’s Summit of the Americas. The US should put pressure on him on both counts,” he said tweeted

CASE DETAILS

Police found blood on a boat belonging to local fisherman da Costa, who was arrested and questioned by police.

On Thursday, officials said a forensic officer and state police were checking for “possible genetic material” on the bloodstained boat to see if it was human or animal.

A volunteer diver helps Marines search for Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira in the indigenous area of ​​the Javari Valley on June 9, 2022.
A volunteer diver helps Marines search for Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira in the indigenous area of ​​the Javari Valley on June 9, 2022.
AP

Da Costa, also known as “Pelado” in his community, was charged with illegal possession of limited ammunition.

Police say he was one of the last people to see the two missing persons and suspect he was involved in illegal fishing for a buyer in Peru.

In their search for the two missing men, officials say they are targeting people involved in illegal fishing and poaching in indigenous lands.

Police are investigating six other people in connection with Phillips and Pereira’s disappearance.

Pereira – who recently received threats about his work fighting illegal fishing – and Phillips were on a reporting trip in the Javari Valley, a remote jungle area near the Peruvian and Colombian borders, when they disappeared.

According to the police, the region often sees illegal hunters and fishermen passing by.

Phillips, who has been reporting from Brazil for more than a decade, is working on a book on Amazon conservation.

Phillips has also contributed to the Washington Post and the New York Times. He currently lives in Salvador, a city in the Brazilian state of Bahia, with his wife, Alessandra Sampaio.

With Post wires

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