Belongings of Men Missing in the Amazon Found Underwater

The discovery comes a day after police found blood in a boat
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 13, 2022 2:00 AM CDT
Belongings of Men Missing in the Amazon Found Underwater
A Federal Police officer loads a truck with items found during a search for Indigenous expert Bruno Pereira and freelance British journalist Dom Phillips in Atalaia do Norte, Amazonas state, Brazil, Sunday, June 12, 2022.   (AP Photo/Edmar Barros)

Brazil's search for an Indigenous expert and a journalist who disappeared in a restive area of the Amazon a week ago advanced with the discovery of a backpack, laptop, and other personal belongings of the men submerged in a river, the AP reports. The items were found Sunday afternoon, and were carried by Federal Police officers by boat to Atalaia do Norte, the closest city to the search. In a statement Sunday night, police said they had identified the items as the belongings of both missing men, including the health card and clothes of Bruno Pereira, the Brazilian Indigenous expert. The backpack, which was identified as belonging to freelance journalist Dom Phillips of Britain, was found tied to a tree that was half-submerged, a firefighter told reporters in Atalaia do Norte. It is the end of the rainy season in the region and part of the forest is flooded.

The development came a day after police reported finding traces of blood in the boat of a fisherman who is under arrest as the only suspect in the disappearance. According to accounts by Indigenous people who were with Pereira and Phillips, he brandished a rifle at them the day before the pair disappeared. Officers also found organic matter of apparent human origin in the river. The materials are being analyzed. Search teams that found the laptop and other items Sunday had concentrated their efforts around a spot in the Itaquai river where a tarp from the boat used by the missing men was found Saturday by volunteers from the Matis Indigenous group. “We used a little canoe to go to the shallow water. Then we found a tarp, shorts, and a spoon,” one of the volunteers, Binin Beshu Matis, told the AP.

Pereira, 41, and Phillips, 57, were last seen June 5 near the entrance of the Javari Valley Indigenous Territory, which borders Peru and Colombia. They were returning alone by boat on the Itaquai to Atalaia do Norte but never arrived. That area has seen violent conflicts between fishermen, poachers and government agents. Violence has grown as drug trafficking gangs battle for control of waterways to ship cocaine, although the Itaquai is not a known drug trafficking route. Authorities have said a main line of the police investigation into the disappearance has pointed to an international network that pays poor fishermen to fish illegally in the Javari Valley reserve, which is Brazil’s second-largest Indigenous territory. (See much more of the latest on the men's disappearance here.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.