Two bodies have been ‘found tied to a tree’ in the search for a missing British journalist and a Brazilian indigenous expert in the Amazon rainforest.
Dom Phillips, 57, and Bruno Pereira, 41, vanished while on a reporting trip in western Brazil a week ago.
Mr Phillips’ family said they were told two bodies had been found in a devastating phone call from the Brazilian ambassador to the UK today.
Paul Sherwood, Phillips’s brother-in-law told The Guardian: ‘He didn’t describe the location and just said it was in the rainforest and he said they were tied to a tree and they hadn’t been identified yet.
‘He said that when it was light, or when it was possible they would do an identification.’
Brazilian journalist André Trigueiro also reported that Mr Phillips’ wife Alessandra had confirmed to him that two bodies have been discovered.
But there was confusion on Monday as Brazilian Police denied these reports.
‘The information being shared that the bodies or Mr Bruno Pereira and Mr Dom Phillips have been found are without merit’, a statement from the federal police said.
‘As was previously stated, biological materials and personal belongings of the missing men were found and are being examined. As soon as any finds are made the family, and the media will be immediately informed.’
It comes after officers reported finding traces of blood in the boat of a fisherman who is under arrest as the only suspect in the disappearance.
Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira, 41, also known as Pelado, was earlier named as a suspect and arrested for allegedly carrying a firearm without a permit, a common practice in the region.
Officers also found organic matter of apparent human origin in the river. The materials are being analysed.
The family of Mr Phillips previously said their hopes of finding him alive have faded.
In a heartbreaking post on Instagram, his mother-in-law wrote: ‘They are no longer with us. Mother nature has snatched them away with a grateful embrace.
‘The material has been undone and incorporated into the earth they so loved and respected.
‘Their souls have joined those of so many others who gave their lives in defence of the rainforest and Indigenous peoples.
‘Today they form part of an immense and pulsating vital energy that emanates from this immense greenery that is the heart of Brazil.’
Mr Phillips’ wife reportedly reposted the statement and said she agreed with it.
The two men were last seen on 5 June near the Javari Valley Indigenous Territory.
Search teams have discovered personal items belonging to them, Brazilian Federal Police said today.
Uncovered objects included a backpack and a pair of boots belonging to Mr Phillips, as well as a health card, black pants, a black sandal and a pair of boots belonging to Mr Pereira.
The British Embassy in Brazil declined to comment. Metro.co.uk has contacted the Foreign Office for comment.