2019-10-28 by Daisy I.
Over 100 join search for British backpacker Amelia Bambridge missing on Cambodian island
Photo: British backpacker Amelia Bambridge has not been seen since early on Thursday.
About 150 police, divers and volunteers are searching for a 21-year-old British woman who has been missing for five days on a Cambodian island popular with backpackers.
Amelia Bambridge, from West Sussex, was last seen at about 3:00am on Thursday morning leaving a beach party on Koh Rong island in the province of Sihanoukville on the southwestern coast, said Sihanoukville governor Kouch Chamroeun, who led a search on Monday that included eight volunteer divers.
Mr Chamroeun said Ms Bambridge’s bag containing her belongings, including a mobile phone, credit cards and a watch, was found on a rock near the water’s edge at Police Beach.
“There is a high suspicion that she may have drowned,” Mr Chamroeun said.
“Looking at her phone, she has taken pictures and posted online until 3:23am.”
Police were also investigating the possibility of foul play, and authorities had alerted fishermen at sea to help, Mr Chamroeun added.
“We searched in the jungle, in people’s houses and various guesthouses yesterday, and we didn’t get any result yet. We are still continuing the search.”
Major General Chuon Narin, police chief of the province, said about 150 divers, policemen, navy personnel, local volunteers and foreigners were taking part in the search.
External Link: Missing backpacker Cambodia instagram
Mr Narin expressed guarded optimism Ms Bambridge might still be found alive and said several foreign tourists had previously gone missing but were found safe after being lost in the island’s jungle.
The island’s Governor Nuon Bunthol told the ABC the search party had already covered almost half of the island, and water searches began yesterday.
“It is hard for me to conclude if foul play was involved. The materials she brought with her are still left untouched,” he said.
On Saturday, traveller Laura Li posted on an expat and local community Facebook pages that searchers had covered a lot of ground in the days after Ms Bambridge went missing.
“It was hard work out there and anyone helping needs to be prepared for that,” she wrote.
Covered in swathes of dense, lush jungle, the relatively undeveloped Koh Rong spans about 78 square kilometres and is fringed by idyllic white sand beaches.
It is popular among backpackers, some of whom who travel there for the island’s regular, privately run parties on Police Beach, which some online reviews have said feature illegal drug use.
Koh Rong lies in the Gulf of Thailand about 25 kilometres from Sihanoukville, a once-sleepy seaside town that has in recent years been transformed by Chinese investment.
It is now a deep-sea port swollen with dozens of soaring high-rise casinos, huge factories and glitzy condominiums.
‘If she’d had an accident she’d have been found by now’
Concern was raised on Thursday when Ms Bambridge was not seen at the island’s Nest Beach Club hostel, where she had been staying and left her passport.
Ms Bambridge’s family has flown to Koh Rong to join the search, her sister, Georgie Bambridge, said on her Instagram account.
“I don’t think she’s in the sea. I think she’s inland somewhere,” her father Phil Bambridge told Britain’s Sky News, adding he thought someone had taken her.
“If she’d had an accident she’d have been found by now.”
Just over a week ago, three Cambodian men were charged with gang-raping a French tourist in the coastal province of Kampot, about 130 kilometres east of Koh Rong.
Georgie Bambridge told Sky News that her sister had wanted to travel her whole life.
“She has spent the past two years saving for it and spent the last year reading blogs of travellers, researching what she was going to do,” she said.
Her family said her trip to Asia began on September 27, when she flew to Vietnam.
“Please share — the more people looking, the sooner we’ll find her,” Georgie Bambridge posted on Sunday.
“We need to find my sister.”
A spokeswoman for the British embassy in Phnom Penh said it was assisting the family of a British woman reported missing in Cambodia and it was in close contact with the police.