Items belonging to two men missing in the remote Amazon have been found by indigenous search teams, Brazilian police confirmed on Sunday.
Dom Phillips, a British journalist, and Bruno Pereira, a Brazilian expert on indigenous communities, were last seen travelling down the Itacoai river, near Colombia and Peru, on 5 June. They were in the area to conduct research.
On Saturday, Mr Pereira’s health identification card was discovered along with a backpack of Mr Phillip’s clothes. Their boots were also recovered, according to a police statement issued on Sunday.
Some of these belongings were found in a flooded area of forest tied to a half-submerged tree, the force said.
Elizeu Mayaruna, an employee of the indigenous Funai agency, said he had spotted clothes which he recognised to be Mr Pereira’s. He and two other members of a search party also uncovered a boat tarp.
Volunteers from the Matis community told the Associated Press about the discovery. “We used a little canoe to go to the shallow water. Then we found a tarp, shorts and a spoon,” Binin Beshu Matis said.
The two men’s disappearance is thought to be linked to illegal fishing, given that Mr Pereira was recently threatened by people engaged in the contraband activity.
“The crime’s motive is some personal feud over fishing inspection,” Denis Paiva, the mayor of the nearby Atalaia do Norte, said without further elaboration.
Police have detained a local fisherman named Amarildo da Costa and have charged him with possession of illegal ammunition. Traces of blood, which were detected last week on his boat, are now being tested by forensic specialists.
Mr da Costa’s lawyer said he does not fish illegally and insisted he had no link to the men’s disappearance.
As 150 soldiers scoured the area for clues as to their whereabouts, Mr Phillip’s family said last week that the two men had likely been killed.
“They are no longer with us,” the British journalist’s mother-in-law wrote on Instagram. “Their souls have joined those of so many others who gave their lives in defence of the rainforest and Indigenous peoples.”
The Brazilian authorities have been criticised for being slow to respond to news of the men’s disappearance.