Dom Phillips missing: Blood found on boat in search for Brit journalist who vanished in the Amazon rainforest | The Sun

POLICE searching for a British journalist missing in the Amazon say they have found traces of blood on a suspect's boat.

Veteran foreign correspondent Dom Phillips, 57, vanished along with his guide Bruno Pereira, 41, an expert on Brazil's indigenous tribes.

The pair had ventured deep into the jungle by boat for a reporting assignment, and have not been heard from since last Sunday.

Cops arrested a local fisherman known as "Pelado" on Tuesday, and have been examining his boat for clues.

"Traces of blood were found on the boat of Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira, 41," police said using the suspect's full name.

They added forensics material is being sent for expert analysis in Manaus, the nearest big city two hours away by plane.

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Further tests are needed to identify if it is human or animal blood, reports say.

Despite the latest grim twist, authorities say they are hopeful of finding the two men alive amid international pressure to ramp up the search.

But they also say they don't rule out any outcome including murder in a region where drug-trafficking and poaching are rife.

There are fears the pair could have been targeted because of their work highlighting environmental damage.

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Bruno has recently received a number of death threats over his work against illegal fishing and mining.

And Dom has written about the destruction of the Amazon in articles for The Guardian and The New York Times.

He has also been writing a book on the environment after 15 years of reporting from Brazil.

His sister Sian Phillips blamed authorities for delaying the search as she was joined by 30 protesters outside Brazil's embassy in London.

She said: "We want the UK authorities to put pressure on the Brazilian government. We want to carry on with the search.

"We want to find out what is happening to them and we want anyone responsible for any criminal act to be brought to justice."

She added of Dom: "He is a great writer and journalist. He is a caring man. He cares about the environment. He loves Brazil.

"He's a great guy and we love him with all our heart."

Brother-in-law Paul Sherwood said the family had "been assured that everything has been done that can be done".

Amid outcry in Brazil, celebrities and human rights groups have urged President Jair Bolsonaro to step up the search.

Bolsonaro is well known for dismissing environmental concerns and has backed logging and mining in the Amazon rainforest.

He was slammed in recent days after he appeared to blame the two missing men, calling their trip an "inadvisable adventure".

Yesterday he said at a summit in Los Angeles: "Let's pray to God that they are still alive.

"With each day that passes, those chances fade."

Jungle mystery

Dom and Bruno went missing in the Javari Valley in the vast and remote far west of the Amazon basin, near Peru.

The area is home to 20 indigenous tribes who face incursions from miners, gold diggers, poachers and drug traffickers.

Colleagues say they were well prepared for the journey with a new boat and enough fuel.

They had arrived in an area called Lago do Jaburu last Friday.

At 6am on Sunday they set out for the three-hour river trip back to local town Atalaia do Norte, but never arrived.

Witnesses said they saw the suspect Pelado speeding past in a boat going in the same direction as the two missing men.

He has been charged with carrying unlicensed ammunition and drugs, and is also suspected of illegal fishing for a buyer in Peru.

Pelado's lawyer insisted he was fishing legally and said he had nothing to do with the men's disappearance.

Six other people have also been questioned by cops as part of the investigation.

Some 250 members of the security forces are now involved in the search, up from around a dozen in the first days.

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They include divers and experts in jungle terrain, and two helicopters are being used as well as more than a dozen boats and drones.

Lead investigator Alexandre Fontes said it was a "very complicated region" which can only be reached by helicopter, small plane or boat.

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