Mobil, the oil company, may be putting at risk the lives of hundreds of Amazonian tribespeople with the massive search for oil it is about to launch in Peru's southern rainforests. The company plans to survey nearly 15,000 sq km for the purpose. The Copenhagen- based International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs claims that the area is occupied by at least three tribes, two of which have been sighted by outsiders from only a distance.

The oil exploration operations conducted by Shell in 1984-85 in a neighbouring area, had had an adverse impact on the health of the tribals. Pneumonia, malaria, whooping cough and other diseases introduced by the oil workers, had claimed the lives of around 300 Nahua tribals (roughly 50-60 per cent of their population at that time)! But Cliff Edwards, chief of Mobil's operations in southern South America, says that the company is fully aware of the risks and will "do things to minimise the impact".