Police find human remains in search for British journalist missing in Amazon

11 June 2022, 13:10 | Updated: 11 June 2022, 14:16

Mr Phillips has been missing for almost a week
Mr Phillips has been missing for almost a week. Picture: Getty/Alamy

By Will Taylor

Humans remains have been found close to where a British journalist was last seen in the Amazon rainforest.

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Brazilian authorities are investigating what happened to Dom Phillips and his guide, indigenous peoples official Bruno Araujo.

Tests are being carried out on the remains and "evidence seems to be mounting" that something criminal has happened, according to one of Mr Phillips' family members.

Mr Phillips and Mr Araujo went missing in a remote part of the Amazon. Both were last seen on June 5 in the Sao Rafael area.

A man has been held in the wake of the disappearance, having been thought to have been among a group who threatened the two men.

Brazilian police have said they found "organic material" in a river near Atalaia do Norte, a town to the far west of the country, deep in the Amazon.

Protesters came out in support of the two missing men at the Brazilian embassy in London
Protesters came out in support of the two missing men at the Brazilian embassy in London. Picture: Alamy

Previously, authorities said blood was discovered on a suspect’s boat, which was being analysed.

Paul Sherwood, the partner of Mr Phillips' sister Sian said: "We can only base our assessment on the evidence that is available, which is there seems to have been threats, that these people shouldn't have disappeared.

"They had good communications equipment and they had good local knowledge so their disappearance and continued failure to turn up definitely suggests sinister events.

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"And it is clear that there were threats and armed people in the area who issued those threats and may have been responsible for attacking them, so we obviously have to hope that wasn't the case but the evidence seems to be mounting that something like that has happened."

The disappearance of the two men comes amid a background of conflict between illegal logging and mining interests and drugs gangs, and indigenous groups and people who want to protect the rainforest.

Mr Phillips is based in the city of Salvador, in Brazil, and has reported on the country for 15 years.

Brazilian authorities found human remains near Atalaia do Norte
Brazilian authorities found human remains near Atalaia do Norte. Picture: Getty

Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira, 41, was arrested for allegedly carrying a firearm without a permit, something that is common in the region.

Police did not clarify why he is a suspect but the is thought to have been among a group of men who threatened Mr Phillips and Mr Araujo on June 4, the day before they vanished.

Mr Sherwood, 60, said he had not yet seen reports that Brazilian police were analysing the human matter.

"Obviously it's very shocking to receive confirmation, if it turns out to be confirmation, of what we suspected, that there was a criminal basis to what's happened," he said.

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"I don't think anybody has sent that to us yet, although we are expecting some communication from police in Brazil fairly soon via the Brazilian embassy - as of now though I haven't received anything."

Foreign Office minister Vicky Ford said she spoke to Anderson Torres, Brazil's justice minister who heads up the federal police.

"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," she tweeted.