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Fears are mounting after a British writer went missing in a remote corner of the Brazilian Amazon after visiting an indigenous tribe.
The wife of journalist Dom Phillips has urged authorities to intensify their search efforts in the region, which is notorious for illegal mining and drug trafficking, following his disappearance on Sunday morning.
Dom was journeying by boat, with indigenous expert Bruno Araújo Pereira, through the Javari region of Amazonas state where he was reporting for a book he is writing about conservation.
His Brazilian wife, Alessandra Sampaio, who lives with Dom in the north-eastern city of Salvador, appealed to the authorities saying that their families are in despair and want urgent action.
She added that in the forest every second counts, and could be the difference between life and death.
The writer's travelling companion Bruno has spent years working to protect the more than two dozen tribes who call the rainforests their home.
The journalist’s sister, Sian Phillips, echoed the concerns of Dom's wife in a video statement last night (Monday, June 6) where she appealed for extra help from anyone, and urged authorities in Brazil to do all they can to search the routes he was following.
Security forces and members of the Indigenous agency Funai reportedly spent most of yesterday searching for the men, and a navy search team was expected to arrive later.
Dom and Pereira had been due to reach Atalaia do Norte on Sunday morning, having entered the reserve by river the previous week, but never made it to their destination.
The missing men had travelled to the region around a Funai monitoring base, and reached Jaburu lake Friday evening, the Union of Indigenous Organizations of the Javari Valley and the Observatory for the Human Rights of Isolated and Recently Contacted Indigenous Peoples said.
The pair started the return trip early Sunday, stopping in the community of Sao Rafael, where Pereira had scheduled a meeting with a local leader to discuss Indigenous patrols to fight the “intense invasions” that have been taking place on their lands, the groups said.
When the community leader did not arrive, the men decided to continue to Atalaia do Norte, about a two-hour trip, they said.
They were last sighted shortly after near the community of Sao Gabriel, just downstream from Sao Rafael.
The pair were travelling in a new boat with 70 litres of gasoline – “sufficient for the trip” – and were using satellite communications equipment, the groups said.
According to the newspaper O Globo, two fishermen in the area were arrested by the police on Monday night, although it remains unclear why they were arrested, and they have since been released.
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Beto Marubo, a prominent Indigenous leader from the region who knows both of the missing men, said that Dom had written "several extraordinarily important articles about the Javari valley that have helped draw attention to our problems".
However, the indigenous leader warned that the region had become increasingly dangerous in recent years as organised and violent gangs of illegal hunters and miners had swarmed into its forests plundering the Javari region.
- Missing Person
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