Dom Phillips: Pele joins calls for Brazil to ramp up search for British journalist missing in Amazon rainforest | World News
Brazilian football legend Pele has joined calls for authorities to intensify their search for a British journalist missing in one of the remotest corners of the Amazon – as helicopters were deployed to find him and an indigenous expert in the rainforest.
Other sports personalities such as Everton and Brazil striker Richarlison and former Brazilian international Walter Casagrande Junior have also urged authorities to step up their efforts to find the pair.
Dom Phillips, 57, a freelancer who has written about Brazil for The Guardian, The Washington Post, The New York Times and others, went missing with Bruno Araujo Pereira, his guide and a former government official whose job was to protect Brazil’s uncontacted tribes.
The pair were last seen over the weekend in Javari Valley of Amazonas state – near the border with Peru. The Javari region is home to the most uncontacted indigenous people in the world.
Pele, 81, wrote on Twitter that he was moved by their disappearance.
“The fight for the preservation of the Amazon Forest and the protection of indigenous groups belongs to all of us… Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira dedicate their lives to this cause,” said the three-time World cup winner.
“I join the many voices that make the appeal to intensify the search and to find them as soon as possible.”
Pele also shared a video of Mr Phillips’ wife, Alessandra Sampaio, making an emotional plea for more action.
It comes amid plans for a vigil to be held in central London on Thursday.
Well-wishers are expected to gather outside the Brazilian Embassy at around 8am carrying large images of Mr Phillips and Mr Pereira.
The Brazilian navy and army have both dispatched search teams in boats and helicopters in an attempt to find the pair and are being supported by federal and state police officers.
Guilherme Torres, the head of the interior department of Amazonas state’s civil police, said earlier this week that he could not rule that their disappearance was linked to the gangs operating in the lawless region.
According to The Guardian, Mr Pereira had received a number of threats from loggers and miners in the region.
On Wednesday, Brazilian police arrested a suspect named as 41-year-old Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira, also known as Pelado, for allegedly carrying a firearm without a permit, a common practice in the region.
Police did not clarify why he was being treated as a suspect but he is thought have been among a group of men who threatened the pair near an indigenous territory on Saturday.
Officers have interviewed at least four witnesses believed to be among the last to have seen Mr Phillips and Mr Pereira.
Mr Phillips’s sister told Sky News: “I’m very anxious. I’m desperately worried. It’s your worst fear.”
Sean Phillips added: “We need everything thrown at this. We want UK officials to put pressure on the Brazilian authorities to act.”
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