Blood found on boat in search for British journalist missing in Amazon

10 June 2022, 09:41

Dom Phillips was last seen on Sunday with his local guide
Dom Phillips was last seen on Sunday with his local guide. Picture: Getty

By Asher McShane

Blood has been found on a boat belonging to a local fisherman who has been arrested as police search for missing British journalist Dom Phillips and an indigenous expert who vanished in a remote part of the Amazon.

Mr Phillips was last seen on Sunday in the Sao Rafael community where he planned to head towards a remote part of the jungle with Bruno Araujo Pereira, a former official with federal indigenous agency Funai.

Police have arrested a local fisherman called Amarildo da Costa who is understood to have been among the last people to see the two men alive.

Police in the region have now said they are investigating traces of blood found on the fisherman’s boat for “possible genetic material”.

Read more: Family of British journalist missing in the Amazon urges action

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The development comes after a Foreign Office minister met Brazil's chief of police to discuss the disappearance.

Chelmsford MP Vicky Ford said she spoke with Brazil's justice and public security minister Anderson Torres, who is also in charge of the federal police, at the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles.

"He assured me Brazilian authorities are doing all that can be done in air, boats & land in v difficult and remote terrain to find Dom and will keep searching," the minister tweeted.

"(The) UK is ready to support (the) operation," she added.

Mr Phillips' sister on Thursday said she still has hope that he will be found.

Sian Phillips was joined by supporters at a vigil for her brother and Mr Pereira outside the Brazilian embassy in central London.

In a statement to the press, Ms Phillips, who donned a red top and held a red rose, with her partner Paul Sherwood and twin brother Gareth Phillips by her side, said: "We had to come this morning, to ask the question: where is Dom Phillips? Where is Bruno Pereira?

"And we are also here for my brother's wife, Alessandra Sampaio. We are here with my brother's nieces and sister-in-law too.

"We are here because Dom is missing, he is lost doing the important job of investigative journalism. We are here to make the point that why did it take so long for them to start the search for my brother and for Bruno.

"We want the search to carry on."

When asked about the chances of her brother being found, she added: "We all still have hope. We have hope."

At 9.30am, a letter was given to the Brazilian ambassador from Greenpeace UK's executive director Pat Venditti and Mr Phillips' family.

Louisa Casson, head of forests at Greenpeace UK, said the letter presents "an urgent call on the Brazilian government to dedicate all necessary local and federal resources to the search mission for Bruno and Dom".

The vigil came after a suspect named as 41-year-old Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira, also known as Pelado, was arrested for allegedly carrying a firearm without a permit, a common practice in the region.

Police did not clarify why he was being treated as a suspect but he is thought to have been among a group of men who threatened the pair near an indigenous territory on Saturday.

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