Cambodia’s “jungle woman,” whose story gripped the country after she apparently spent 18 years living in a forest, has fled back to the jungle, her father and local police said yesterday.
Rochom P’ngieng, now 29, went missing as a little girl in 1989 while herding water buffalo in Ratanakkiri province, about 600km northeast of the capital, Phnom Penh.
In early 2007 the woman was brought from the jungle, naked and dirty, after being caught trying to steal food from a farmer.
She was hunched over like a monkey, scavenging on the ground for pieces of dried rice.
“She must have fled back to the forest on Tuesday evening while she was going to take a bath,” Sal Lou, the man who says he is her father, said by telephone.
“I and my son are looking for her in the middle forest now,” he said, adding that he believed “forest spirits” guided her back to the dense jungle.
Local police chief Ma Vichet said the authorities had also begun a search but had found no sign of the woman.
“We also believe that she fled back to the jungle,” Ma Vichet said.