British kayaker Emma Kelty ‘murdered’ on Amazon trip

  • 19 September 2017
  • From the section UK

A British woman who disappeared while on a solo kayaking trip in the Amazon has died, the Foreign Office has said.

Emma Kelty, 43, of London, went missing last week and local authorities have arrested a teenager over her murder.

Her body has not yet been found but, according to police in Brazil, a teenage boy has said he participated in her murder along with six other people.

The Foreign Office said it was “supporting the family of a British woman following her death in Brazil”.

Ms Kelty disappeared in the upper stretches of the Amazon in northern Brazil, often referred to as the Solimoes River – an area known for pirate attacks and drug traffickers.

Some of her belongings, including her kayak, were found by the Brazilian navy on Friday, according to police chief Ivo Martins.

She was 42 days into a 4,000-mile trip along the Amazon river from its source to the Atlantic Ocean and had been documenting her trip on Twitter.

Her last tweet was on 13 September. The day before she tweeted that she saw “30 to 50 men armed with rifles and arrows in boats”.

Ms Kelty, in a Facebook post on 10 September, wrote about the dangers of the area she was entering: “So in or near Coari (100km away) I will have my boat stolen and I will be killed too. Nice.”

After travelling past the town, she posted two days later: “Am in the clear. All OK”.

The former head teacher’s previous expeditions included a solo ski trip to the South Pole in January.

Speaking to BBC Surrey in February, she talked about the risks she would face in the Amazon, including “people who organ-harvest and rob and fire guns”.

Asked if she was risking her life on these adventures, she said: “Oh yes, I mean that’s half the challenge.

“But it’s about minimising the risk. I’m going to a self-defence course which is going to be tailored to de-arming people, so if I do come across that situation at least I’m prepared for it.”

Olie Hunter Smart, an explorer who completed a similar route in 2015, said Coari was an area known for its danger.

He had met Ms Kelty before her trip to help her plan for the journey.

Mr Smart, who is currently walking the length of India, said: “The Emma that I met was an incredibly brave and courageous person who lived life to the full.

“My thoughts go out to her close friends and family at this very sad time.”

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