The Brazilian ambassador to the UK has apologized to the family of missing journalist Dom Phillips after they were wrongly told that two bodies had been found in the search operation.
Phillips’ family told CNN in an email that Fred Arruda, Brazil’s ambassador to London, wrote to them on Tuesday saying: “We are deeply sorry the embassy passed on to the family yesterday information that did not prove correct.”
According to the family, Roberto Doring, deputy head of mission at the Brazilian embassy in London, called them on Monday to tell them that bodies had been found.
In a statement, the family said: “We were told by telephone that two bodies had been found but that (due to the fact it was still early morning in Brazil) no identification had taken place.”
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The Brazilian Federal Police have repeatedly denied having found any bodies in the search for Phillips and Brazilian researcher Bruno Pereira, and on Monday evening, they said the day’s searches had ended “but nothing was found.”
“The information that is being released regarding the bodies of Mr Bruno Pereira and Mr Dom Phillips being found is not accurate,” the Federal Police said. “As already disclosed, biological materials were found and are being examined, as well as the personal belongings of the missing people. As soon as anything is found, the family and the media will be immediately informed.”
The indigenous organizations involved in the search also said the information about the two bodies was inaccurate.
On Monday, Beatriz Matos, Pereira’s wife, said on Twitter that police had told her family “nobody was found.”
“It is necessary to understand where the ambassador got this information from,” Matos wrote.
On Tuesday, police arrested a second suspect in connection with the disappearance of the pair, according to a press release from the Federal Police. The first suspect was arrested last week.
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Police said the second suspect, a 41-year-old man, was being interrogated and would be referred to a custody hearing in the municipal court. They also said they seized some firearm cartridges and a paddle, which will be analyzed.
Arruda said in his email to Phillips’ family that officials close to the investigation had “misled” embassy staff.
“On reflection, there was precipitation on the part of the multi-agency team, for which I wholeheartedly apologize,” he said, adding: “The search operation will go on, with no efforts being spared. Our thoughts remain with Dom, Bruno, yourselves and the other members of both families.”
In a statement sent to CNN, the Brazilian Foreign Ministry also confirmed its ambassador’s apology for passing on “information that proved to be incorrect.”
Phillips and Pereira went missing on June 5, during a trip in the Javari Valley, in the far western part of Amazonas state.
They were conducting research for a book project on conservation efforts in the region, which authorities have described as “complicated” and “dangerous,” and which is known to harbor illegal miners, loggers and international drug dealers.