International outrage continues over the disappearances in Brazil of Dom Phillips, a British journalist, and Bruno Araujo Pereira (Indigenous rights expert), who were reported missing in remote regions of the Brazilian Amazon since Sunday.
Two of their colleagues last spoke to them while they were travelling by boat through the Javari Valley near the border with Peru.
Phillips was in one of his final reporting trips to write a book he was working on as part of a 2021 fellowship from the Alicia Patterson Foundation. Margaret Engel, the executive director of the U.S journalism foundation, said that Phillips was there.
Authorities in Brazil stated that they had tested samples of blood from a suspect's boat but the two men are still missing.
Five other people have been questioned by authorities since the beginning of the investigation, but no arrests have been made in connection to the disappearances, according to a source from the Brazilian federal police.
Phillips' relatives urged Brazilian authorities to keep the search going at a Thursday vigil outside London's Brazilian Embassy.
Sian Phillips, the sister to Dom Phillips said that she wants to know what's happening and that anyone who is responsible for criminal acts should be tried. "We demand a persistent, deep, and open investigation."
After being accused of slow response agencies, environmentalist groups joined them in appealing to Brazilian authorities. This is just one of many celebrities, activists, and news organizations that have expressed concern about the safety of Phillips or Pereira.
Pele, a legendary Brazilian soccer player, tweeted Wednesday a video of Phillips' wife Alessandra Sampaio crying and asking for more attention to the search.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro initially seemed to blame Phillips and Pereira, saying that they had "gone on an adventure that was not recommended."
Phillips and Pereira are both close friends who refute the notion that this was an impulsive excursion. Engel, who was working with Phillips to write his book, stated that "Nothing he did wasn't off-the-cuff." He then added, "He wasn't naive about any dangers that existed."
Soraya Zaiden, a close collaborator with Pereira at Indigenous rights organisation Univaja, stated that Pereira is unlikely to put anyone in harm's way.
Zaiden stated, "He loves what you do and takes no inconsiderate risks." He is responsible for creating safety protocols to monitor.
In this area of Amazon, where illegal mining activities and drug trafficking are rampant, violence has occurred in the past. Groups working to protect the Amazon rainforest and preserve its culture and indigenous inhabitants have resisted these activities. Advocates told ABC News that a member of Brazil's FUNAI, which is charged with protecting the interests of Indigenous peoples, was shot to death in Javari Valley in 2019.
Pereira worked previously for FUNAI.
Antenor Vaz, an ex-Funia coordinator, stated that Bolsonaro's office saw the replacement of FUNAI regional directors, including Bruno. "We also lost at most 40 % our resources."
ABC News received a letter from Pereira a week before Phillips disappeared. The anonymous sender stated that Bruno from FUNAI sent the Indians to seize the engines and take our fishes. He also warned Pereira, "I am just warning" you, "It will be the worst for you if you continue this way."
Phillips' and Pereira's disappearances occurred at the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, where many Latin American leaders including Bolsonaro met with President Joe Biden. There was also protest from environmental groups, asking Biden not to meet with Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro has previously downplayed climate change's impact on Amazon deforestation.
Environmental advocates raised the case of the missing men and demanded answers from Bolsonaro about the whereabouts.
Demonstrators asked, "Where is Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira?"