Six Cambodians held as hopes fade for missing British tourist

Cambodian policemen and soldiers searching for missing Briton Amelia Bambridge (above left) on Koh Rong island yesterday. The 21-year-old was last seen at a beach party last Thursday. A bag and phone were found where she was last sighted at Police Be
Cambodian policemen and soldiers searching for missing Briton Amelia Bambridge (above) on Koh Rong island yesterday. The 21-year-old was last seen at a beach party last Thursday. A bag and phone were found where she was last sighted at Police Beach.PHOTO: REUTERS
Cambodian policemen and soldiers searching for missing Briton Amelia Bambridge (above left) on Koh Rong island yesterday. The 21-year-old was last seen at a beach party last Thursday. A bag and phone were found where she was last sighted at Police Be
Cambodian policemen and soldiers searching for missing Briton Amelia Bambridge on Koh Rong island yesterday. The 21-year-old was last seen at a beach party last Thursday. A bag and phone were found where she was last sighted at Police Beach.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

KOH RONG (Cambodia) • Six Cambodians have been held for questioning in connection with the disappearance of a 21-year-old British woman who went missing on an island popular with backpackers, as the police said yesterday that hopes were fading of finding her alive.

Nearly 200 army, navy and police officers scoured Koh Rong island in southern Cambodia for a sixth day to find tourist Amelia Bambridge, who was last seen at a beach party last Thursday.

A bag and phone were found where she was last sighted at Police Beach, a late-night hang-out popular with travellers, with British media reporting that the alarm was raised after she failed to check out of her hostel.

Six Cambodians, some of whom work in the island's bars, have been taken to the police headquarters of neighbouring coastal province Sihanoukville, a senior officer told Agence France-Presse yesterday.

"They are being questioned," provincial deputy police chief Nop Panha said.

"We are not drawing any conclusions yet."

But another senior police source said that there was little hope that Ms Bambridge would be found alive after a days-long hunt yielded few clues to her whereabouts.

"We are looking for a body now," said the official, who is part of the search party, requesting anonymity.

Ms Bambridge's distraught family - who have been regularly posting on Facebook asking for information about their daughter's whereabouts - are in Cambodia and have been shuttling between Sihanoukville and Koh Rong as the search intensifies.

"Where are you Amelia we miss you dearly," posted sister Sharon Schultes on Facebook.

The authorities are checking with fishermen if anyone was accidentally caught in their nets, while teams are also trudging through Koh Rong's lush jungles for clues.

Koh Rong, located in the Gulf of Thailand, is a two-hour boat ride from the coast and draws budget travellers with its cheap guesthouses, beachside bars and idyllic beaches.

But it has undergone development in lockstep with the construction and casino boom in nearby Sihanoukville, thanks to a cash influx from Chinese investors.

While widely seen as a safe landing point for tourists travelling through South-east Asia, Cambodia has grabbed headlines in the past for serious crimes involving foreigners.

A Cambodian court last week charged three men with gang-raping a French tourist in the coastal province of Kampot after offering her a ride in their car.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 30, 2019, with the headline 'Six Cambodians held as hopes fade for missing British tourist'. Print Edition | Subscribe