Brit’s family missing from Amazon apologize after body was found

Brazil’s ambassador to the UK has officially apologized to Dom Phillip’s family (Image: AP/Reuters/Getty)

Missing British journalist Dom Phillips’ family have received an apology after being incorrectly told his body has been found.

Brazilian police have been looking for 57-year-old writer and indigenous expert Bruno Pereira, 41.

They have disappeared from a remote part of the Amazon and are believed to have been last seen early June 5 in the municipality of Sao Rafael.

Mr Phillips’ family received a call from an aide at Brazil’s ambassador to the UK on Monday, claiming their bodies had been discovered tied to trees in the rainforest.

But the journalist’s brother-in-law, Paul Sherwood, said yesterday that Ambassador Fred Arruda had written to the family to say the statement was false.

The envoy said: “We deeply regret that the embassy passed information to the family yesterday that turned out to be incorrect.”

He said the embassy was “misled” by information it received from “investigators.” Mr Arruda insisted: “The search operation is continuing and no effort will be spared.”

epa10012662 National Indian Foundation (Funai) staff members take part in a protest against statements made by Funai President Marcelo Augusto Xavier da Silva about the disappearance of British journalist Dom Phillips (L on poster), a contributor to The Guardian newspaper , and Brazilian indigenousista Bruno Pereira Araujo (R on the placard), outside the Ministry of Justice and Public Security in Brasilia, Brazil, June 14, 2022. The workers called for a strike following statements by the President of FUNAI, in which he indicated that Phillips and Pereira Araujo, who have been missing in the Brazilian Amazon since June 5, were not permitted to enter this indigenous territory of the Valley do Javari. The demonstrators also accused Marcelo Xavier da Silva of not guaranteeing the workers' safety and of criminalizing the work of the indigenous people. EPA/JOEDSON ALVES

Members of Brazil’s indigenous agency Funai staged a strike, protesting their president’s handling of Mr Pereira’s disappearance (Image: EPA)

Firefighters are conducting a search for British journalist Dom Phillips and Indigenous expert Bruno Pereira, who went missing June 14 in Atalaia do Norte, Amazonas state, Brazil, when they were trapped in a remote and lawless part of the Amazon rainforest near the Border with Peru reported , 2022. REUTERS/Bruno Kelly

Firefighters search for Mr Phillips and Mr Pereira near the border with Peru, in Atalaia do Norte (Image: Reuters)

Dom Phillips @domphillips British journalist who disappeared in the Amazon

Mr Phillips went missing while reporting in a remote and lawless part of the Amazon rainforest

He added: “Our thoughts remain with Dom, Bruno, you and the other members of both families.”

Yesterday, Brazilian police arrested a second suspect in the couple’s disappearance in the rainforest. 41-year-old Oseney da Costa de Oliveira, also known as “Dos Santos”, was temporarily arrested.

Police suspect he was involved in the case with his brother Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira, who was arrested last week.

Amarildo, known as “Pelado”, was arrested last week in the riverside village of Sao Gabriel – not far from where Mr Pereira and Mr Phillips were last staying. He was arrested for allegedly carrying a firearm without a permit – a common practice in the area.

Police did not explain why he was being treated as a suspect, but it is believed he was among a group of men who threatened the missing men near an indigenous territory on June 4.


Mr Pereira worked at FUNAI until 2019, when he was fired for what he believed to be a successful operation to stop illegal mines in an area reserved for indigenous people (Image: AFP/Getty Images).

Search operation for missing British journalist in the Amazon jungle

Authorities are losing hope as search area shrinks (Image: Reuters)

Police navigate the Itaquai River Friday, June 10, 2022 during the search for British journalist Dom Phillips and indigenous affairs expert Bruno Araujo Pereira in the Javari Valley, Atalaia do Norte, Amazonas State, Brazil. Phillips and Pereira were last seen Sunday morning in the Javari Valley, Brazil's second-largest indigenous territory, which lies in a remote area bordering Peru and Colombia. (AP Photo/Edmar Barros)

Police navigate the River Itaquai during searches for Mr Phillips and Mr Pereira (Image: AP)

Officers returned to Sao Gabriel yesterday and confiscated some ammunition and an oar, a statement said.

Both suspects are being held at the police station in Atalaia do Norte, the nearest town, where the second man was arrested.

The search for the missing men is drawing to a close as the remaining area shrinks, according to a spokesman for indigenous group Univaja, which has been searching non-stop.

Eliesio Marubo, a lawyer for Univaja, said indigenous searchers tipped off authorities after spotting tracks of the men in the area and helped focus the search.

Brazil Federal Police said the latest development in the search for the two men is the discovery of their personal belongings.

These included a backpack and a pair of boots belonging to Mr Phillips, as well as a medical card, black trousers, a black sandal and a pair of boots belonging to Mr Pereira.

Demonstrators react as they protest following the disappearance of journalist Dom Phillips and indigenous expert Bruno Araujo Pereira in the Amazon at Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 12, 2022. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares

Protesters mourn the couple’s tragic disappearance (Image: Reuters)

Veteran foreign correspondent Dom Phillips visits Aldeia Maloca Papi??, Roraima state, Brazil, November 16, 2019. - Phillips went missing while researching a book with respected indigenous expert Bruno Pereira in the Javari Valley in the Brazilian Amazon. Pereira, an expert with Brazil's indigenous affairs agency, FUNAI, who knows the region inside out, regularly receives threats from loggers and miners trying to invade the lands of isolated indigenous groups. (Photo by Joao LAET/AFP) (Photo by JOAO LAET/AFP via Getty Images)

It was believed Mr Phillips and Mr Pereira were last seen in the village of Sao Rafael (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

Federal police officers carry confiscated material during a search operation for British journalist Dom Phillips and Indigenous expert Bruno Pereira, who went missing while covering a remote and lawless part of the Amazon rainforest near the border with Peru in Atalaia do Norte, Amazonas state . Brazil June 14, 2022. REUTERS/Bruno Kelly

Federal police officers carry confiscated evidence during their search operation (Image: Reuters)

A search team firefighter told reporters about a backpack containing clothing and a laptop attached to a half-submerged log.

Separate reports emerged on Saturday that police had discovered human matter in the Itaquai River near the port of Atalaia do Norte. Authorities previously said blood found on a suspect’s boat had been sent for analysis.

News of the couple’s disappearance resonated around the world, with human rights organizations, environmentalists and advocates of free press urging Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to step up the search.

Protesters carrying banners with the two men’s faces went to Brazil’s Justice Ministry in the capital Brasilia yesterday to demand justice and answers.

Workers at the indigenous organization Funai went on a day-long strike to demand more security for their local experts.

They also called on the organization’s president, Marcelo Augusto Xavier da Silva, to withdraw statements criticizing Pereira in the days following his disappearance.

Mr. Pereira worked for FUNAI until 2019, when he was fired for what he believed to be a successful operation to end illegal mines in a reserved area

Bolsonaro, who was once questioned harshly at a press conference for weakening environmental legislation by Mr Phillips, said last week the two men were “on an adventure that is not recommended” and speculated they may have been executed.

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Justin Scacco

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