Authorities announced the discovery Friday, June 10, of “apparently human-like organic matter” during research into the disappearance of British journalist Dom Phillips and Brazilian anthropologist Bruno Pereira in a remote area of ​​the Brazilian Amazon.

“The search teams have located in the river, near the port of Atalaia do Norte, apparently human organic matter” which will be subject to expertise, said in a statement, the federal police (PF), carrier- voice of the research it conducts with the armed forces and local teams.

The PF did not say whether the organic material was found where firefighters were investigating traces of excavation, on the bank of the Itaquaí River in Amazonas state, where the two were traveling. men when they disappeared.

A man taken into custody

“We were told of a mound of dirt, as if there had been an excavation in place, as if something had been buried, and mud was thrown over it,” the second lieutenant of the fire department had said. Geonivan Maciel to reporters. “We’ll probe down to see if we find anything.”

“We can’t say there’s any concrete evidence,” he continued, “but we’ll see if we find anything that could link the missing two.”

After a very slow start, the Brazilian federal police and army have intensified the search for the two men, who were last seen on Sunday morning in the locality of Sao Gabriel, not far from their destination, Atalaia do Norte.

A 41-year-old man, described as a “suspicious”, was taken into custody and traces of blood on his boat were to be analyzed. Witnesses said they saw him speed past in a boat heading in the same direction as 57-year-old Guardian regular contributor Dom Phillips and 41-year-old indigenous peoples expert Bruno Pereira when they were last seen.

Brazilian government criticized

The two men were traveling together in the Javari Valley, a difficult area to access in the west of the Amazon, close to Peru and deemed dangerous with the presence of all kinds of traffickers. The PF had said Wednesday that it was not ruling out “any leads”, including that of homicide, in an area considered “dangerous”. According to local indigenous activists, Bruno Pereira was frequently threatened for his fight against encroachment on indigenous lands.

The government of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has been criticized by relatives of the disappeared and indigenous groups for its delay in deploying searches. “From the first moment, our armed forces and the Federal Police have been mobilized in the tireless search for these people”, defended himself on Friday, Mr. Bolsonaro in his speech at the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles.

This statement came on the heels of that of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, which had described Brasilia’s response to the disappearances as “extremely slow” and expressed concern about the disappearance of these two people, as well as about attacks on activists and journalists in Brazil.

Jair Bolsonaro had previously described the expedition as MM. Phillips and Pereira of “Adventure”. “In this region, we are generally escorted,” he said on Thursday.