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Brazil's indigenous chief Raoni hospitalized in weakened state

Raoni Metuktire addresses members of different Brazilian tribes in Piaracu village, Mato Grosso state, in January 2020
Raoni Metuktire addresses members of different Brazilian tribes in Piaracu village, Mato Grosso state, in January 2020 CARL DE SOUZA AFP/File
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Rio de Janeiro (AFP)

Indigenous leader Raoni Metuktire, one of the Amazon rainforest's best-known defenders, was transferred between hospitals Saturday due to weakness and a "worsening" state of health, one of the medical facilities said.

Metuktire, a chief of the Kayapo people in northern Brazil, was likely suffering from a digestive hemorrhage, said Santa Ines Hospital, in the small town of Colider in Mato Grosso state, where he was admitted Thursday.

Metuktire was already showing "signs of improvement" including a rise in blood pressure after being administered first aid, according to the hospital where he was transferred in the city of Sinop.

The transfer was made by plane after Metuktire, now in his 90s, appeared to be in a "worsening condition, with an increase in weakening and a deterioration of renal function," Santa Ines Hospital reported in a statement.

It said that since it "did not have an intensive care unit, he was transferred with some urgency" just in case "his clinical condition worsens."

French NGO Planete Amazon previously announced that Metuktire was suffering from a general state of weakness.

He "started to be sick 15 days ago with fever, diarrhea and vomiting" and was very dehydrated, said Gert-Peter Bruch, president of the association.

Metuktire had tested negative for coronavirus, Bruch said, even as many indigenous people in the Amazon contract the illness as it sweeps across Brazil, the world's second hardest-hit country.

Known for his colorful feather headdresses and the large disc inserted in his lower lip, Raoni has traveled the world raising awareness of the threat posed by destruction of the Amazon.

Metuktire was reportedly in a depressed state following the recent death of his wife of more than 60 years, Bekwyjka, who died in June following a stroke.

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