Friday 19 January 2018

Canadian missing five years found in rainforest

Safely home: Anton Pilipa
Safely home: Anton Pilipa

Nick Allen in Washington

A Canadian man who vanished five years ago has been found thousands of kilometres away in a city in the Amazon rainforest after apparently walking much of the way there.

Anton Pilipa (39), who was last seen by his family in 2012, was discovered wandering barefoot on a track with no passport or identification documents near Manaus, the capital of the state of Amazonas.

His brother Stefan Pilipa told media outlets his sibling had mental health problems and had begun treatment for schizophrenia before disappearing. He had apparently walked and hitchhiked across two continents, surviving by begging and foraging for food.

"I feel amazed that he's alive and had made it that far," Mr Pilipa told CBC. Although details were scarce, the journey of more than 16,000km had reportedly taken Mr Pilipa from Vancouver, where he was living, across at least 10 borders to Buenos Aires, Argentina, before he turned north again and headed into Brazil.

He was first picked up by police in Brazil in November and taken to hospital but then escaped and headed into the jungle.

Helenice Vidigal, a Brazilian-Canadian police officer, who questioned him, said: "That is the area where we talk about huge predators like crocodiles and jungle cats. We truly were afraid he could be eaten by one of those animals."

After Mr Pilipa was found again near Manaus, officer Vidigal found his family in Canada through Twitter.

Stefan Pilipa, who flew to Brazil to bring his brother back, said: "He looked really rough. His health was starting to deteriorate. We got him just in time."

Anton Pilipa told BBC Brasil: "I know that I am very lucky to be alive. I am very happy to be able to return to my family."

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