'Every Second Counts' in Search for Journalist and Tribal Expert Missing in Amazon Rainforest

The Guardian contributor Dom Phillips and indigenous expert Bruno Araujo Pereira were last seen in the remote Javari Valley of the far western Amazonas State on Sunday morning

Bruno Araújo Pereira; Dom Phillips
Photo: Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva Twitter

The family of a veteran British journalist missing in the Amazon rainforest since Sunday, says that "every second counts" in the search for his location.

Dom Phillips, a longtime contributor to The Guardian, was last seen in the remote Javari Valley of the far western Amazonas State on Sunday morning, alongside Bruno Araujo Pereira, a staffer on leave from the Brazilian Indigenous National Foundation (FUNAI), CNN reported.

It is believed that the pair had traveled through the densely forested region for around a week before venturing by boat to remote Jaburu Lake, close to the borders of Peru.

Phillips, 57, and Pereira were then expected to return to the city of Atalaia do Norte to meet with a local leader Sunday afternoon. Yet, the two never showed up, according to the Union of Indigenous Organizations of the Javari Valley (UNIVAJA).

amazon rainforest
Amazon rainforest. Mark Fox Photography/ Getty

Adding to the mystery, the organization also revealed Monday that Phillips and Pereira had "received threats in the field," in the week before their disappearance, CNN continued, adding "the threat was not the first."

Now, both Brazilian federal agencies and indigenous locals are searching the green canopy of Amazonas State for the pair of missing adventurers.

While two local fishermen were initially arrested in connection with the disappearance Monday evening, they have since been released, the BBC reported.

The families of Phillips and Pereira have also called on the Brazilian government to escalate their efforts to find the missing men.

Veteran foreign correspondent Dom Phillips visits in a mine in Roraima State, Brazil, on November 14, 2019. - Phillips went missing while researching a book in the Brazilian Amazon's Javari Valley with respected indigenous expert Bruno Pereira. Pereira, an expert at Brazil's indigenous affairs agency, FUNAI, with deep knowledge of the region, has regularly received threats from loggers and miners trying to invade isolated indigenous groups' land. (Photo by Joao LAET / AFP) (Photo by JOAO LAET/AFP via Getty Images)

"Please answer the urgency of the moment with urgent actions," Phillips' wife Alessandra Sampaio said in a statement, The New York Times reported.

"In the forest every second counts," she stressed. "Every second could be the difference between life and death."

On Monday, the former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva also shared words of support for the search and rescue operation.

"Phillips interviewed me for the Guardian in 2017. I hope they are fine, safe, and will be found quickly," Lula tweeted.

Speaking to the BBC, The Guardian said it was "very concerned" about Phillips and was "urgently seeking" details of his "whereabouts and condition."

The veteran foreign correspondent has lived in Brazil for more than a decade and written extensively about the lives of people living in the Amazon basin.

Pereira is also well known in the region for his efforts to protect the lives of indigenous tribes in the rainforest.

"Bruno always acted fiercely against illegal activities in the region," Leonardo Lenin, from the Observatory for the Human Rights of Isolated and Recently Contacted Indigenous Peoples, told The New York Times.

Lenin added that groups wishing to exploit the natural bounties of the rainforest for profit, "were trying to intimidate him to stop monitoring the territory," the newspaper said.

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