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Monday, June 07, 2010

Cambodia's missing 'jungle woman' found in toilet

PHNOM PENH — A Cambodian woman whose story gripped the nation after she apparently spent 18 years living in the jungle has been found in a dugout toilet 11 days after she disappeared again, her father said Monday.

Rochom P'ngieng, 29, was reported missing late last month by her family, who at the time said they believed she had fled back into the forest.

She was found in an outdoor toilet about 100 metres (300 feet) from her home after a neighbour heard her crying, Sal Lou, the man who says he is her father, told AFP by telephone.

"She was discovered in a 10-metre deep toilet. It's an unbelievable story. She spent 11 days there," he said, adding that her body was soaked with excrement up to her chest.

"We are still wondering how she could get into the toilet" which has a small entrance hole covered in wood, he said, adding that she had been admitted to hospital following the incident.

Rochom P'ngieng went missing as a little girl in 1989 while herding water buffalo in Ratanakkiri province, around 600 kilometres (400 miles) northeast of Phnom Penh and home to some of the most isolated and wild jungle in Cambodia.

In early 2007 she 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.

Cambodians described her as "jungle woman" and "half-animal girl" and since rejoining society she has battled bouts of illness after refusing food.

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