An American family travelling through the Amazon has been reported missing after pirates allegedly hijacked a ferry, authorities said.
Emily Faith Heart, 37, her husband Adam Harris Heart, 39, and their two daughters — Sierra, 3, and Colette, 7 — were en route to Breves in north Brazil on Sunday when a group of armed thieves took over the boat. The family along with other passengers were forced down the Amazon river into an area known as Porto dos Dias.
“Several heavily armed men boarded the ferry and pusher and kept the passengers and crew hostage for hours,” a police spokesperson told FocusOn News.
Additional unconfirmed reports allege the pirates raped Emily during the hostile encounter.
When police arrived at the scene of the robbery, they found other victims stranded on board the ship stripped of their personal belongings. The Heart family was not on board.
Police believe the family may have jumped into the water to evade their captors and are asking anyone with information about their whereabouts to come forward.
“We have launched a full search with the civil police, military police, air rescue and fire department involved,” a spokesperson from the Ministry of Public Security and Social Defense (Segup) said.
“We are searching social networks for any form of contact made by the family and are in touch with their relatives in Florianopolis, where the family have a residence and with their family in the USA,” he added.
Police found a van the family had been living out of abandoned in the jungle but still haven’t seen any signs of them.
The family left California to travel around South America in 2012, according to the family’s travel blog.