Aunt of Amelia Bambridge says she fears the British backpacker is being held by human traffickers

Aunt of missing Amelia Bambridge says she fears the British backpacker is being held by human traffickers as the search for her continues in Cambodia

  • Johanna O’Flaherty said she feared the 21-year-old was ‘in captivity’ in Cambodia
  • The aunt said she suspected ‘a good possibility that it is for human trafficking’
  • Today Miss Bambridge’s family boarded boats on the island where she vanished 

The aunt of missing Amelia Bambridge has voiced fears that the British backpacker is being held by human traffickers in Cambodia. 

Johanna O’Flaherty said she was holding on to hope that Amelia was still alive but said she feared the 21-year-old was in ‘captivity’.  

Today Miss Bambridge’s family boarded speedboats to continue the search on the Cambodian island where she vanished six days ago. 

More than 100 army, navy and police personnel as well as volunteers and relatives are combing the waters and dense jungle territory but no trace of her has been found so far.  

Worried: Johanna O’Flaherty (pictured), the aunt of missing Amelia Bambridge, said she feared her niece had been abducted and was being held by human traffickers 

Missing: British backpacker Amelia Bambridge (pictured in a family photo) was last seen at a beach party on Wednesday night and did not check out of her hostel the next morning

Missing: British backpacker Amelia Bambridge (pictured in a family photo) was last seen at a beach party on Wednesday night and did not check out of her hostel the next morning

Search: Relatives of Amelia Bambridge leave on a boat to continue their search on the island of Koh Rong in Cambodia today

Search: Relatives of Amelia Bambridge leave on a boat to continue their search on the island of Koh Rong in Cambodia today 

Concerned: Amelia's father Phil Bambridge, pictured left on a speedboat today, has also voiced fears that the 21-year-old backpacker has been abducted

Concerned: Amelia’s father Phil Bambridge, pictured left on a speedboat today, has also voiced fears that the 21-year-old backpacker has been abducted 

Speaking to KSNV in Las Vegas, where she is a psychologist, she said she had helped many trauma survivors in her line of work but had ‘never thought it would happen to our family’.  

‘I think there is a very high possibility that she is in captivity,’ Ms O’Flaherty said. 

‘I believe that she was abducted, and there’s a good possibility that it is for human trafficking.’  

Miss Bambridge’s brother is aiding the search and Ms O’Flaherty said he was a former Army paratrooper with ‘very good training’.  

She also compared Amelia’s disappearance to that of Natalee Holloway, an American teenager who vanished in the Caribbean in 2005 and has never been found. 

Amelia Bambridge, 21, went missing five days ago in Cambodia (pictured in the country). She was last seen at a beach party on the island of Koh Rong

Amelia Bambridge, 21, went missing five days ago in Cambodia (pictured in the country). She was last seen at a beach party on the island of Koh Rong

Amelia’s family members scrambled to the island to help with the investigation and have been shuttling between Sihanoukville and Koh Rong as the search intensifies.

After cracking the password to her Instagram account they have posted regular updates to urge other travellers on the island to provide information.  

‘Where are you Amelia we miss you dearly,’ posted sister Sharon Schultes on Facebook. ‘PLEASE FIND OUR AMELIA.’

Brother Harry Bambridge said: ‘We won’t stop until she’s found.’  

While her brother and father jumped on a speedboat, her mother joined a police canine team to search a jungle near the last sighting. 

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. 

Last night police were questioning six Cambodian men, but no charges had been filed against them. 

The six people questioned work at restaurants, hotels and guesthouses on the island, officials said. 

Police had received a note from some Western visitors saying the men had acted badly toward foreign tourists in the past, especially women.  

‘They are being questioned,’ provincial deputy police chief Nop Panha said. ‘We are not drawing any conclusions yet.’

Rescue operation: Relatives of Amelia Bambridge leave on a boat today as they continue a search in which more than 100 people are involved

Rescue operation: Relatives of Amelia Bambridge leave on a boat today as they continue a search in which more than 100 people are involved 

A navy patrol boat heads out today to continue the search for Amelia Bambridge who has not been seen since she went to a beach party on Wednesday night

A navy patrol boat heads out today to continue the search for Amelia Bambridge who has not been seen since she went to a beach party on Wednesday night 

A military boat (right) takes part in the search along with the boat (background) carrying Amelia's relatives as the search continues on Wednesday

A military boat (right) takes part in the search along with the boat (background) carrying Amelia’s relatives as the search continues on Wednesday 

Amelia's brother Harry Bambridge (right) sits on a speedboat before leaving to search for her today. The missing Briton's aunt said Harry was a trained Army paratrooper

Amelia’s brother Harry Bambridge (right) sits on a speedboat before leaving to search for her today. The missing Briton’s aunt said Harry was a trained Army paratrooper 

Cambodian provincial police officers stop a fishing boat during the search for the backpacker

Cambodian provincial police officers stop a fishing boat during the search for the backpacker

Evidence: The Briton's phone, watch, purse, credit card and medication were found inside a bag the morning after she vanished

Evidence: The Briton’s phone, watch, purse, credit card and medication were found inside a bag the morning after she vanished 

Footage of the gap-year student taken hours before she vanished was released by her family in a desperate attempt to help find her

Footage of the gap-year student taken hours before she vanished was released by her family in a desperate attempt to help find her

But another senior police source said there was ‘little hope’ that Bambridge will 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. 

Miss Bambridge, from Worthing, West Sussex, was last seen at a beach party on the island on Wednesday night. 

Staff at the private beach venue found her urple rucksack, containing her purse, phone and bank cards, the following morning.

Her family were alerted to her disappearance when she did not check out of the Nest Beach Club hostel the following morning. Her passport was still at the hostel. 

Koh Rong governor Noun Bunthol said the latest foray into the waters of the Gulf of Thailand was based on a tip from a fisherman.

‘We took the family members to an area where a fisherman reported he saw a body floating, but we did not see anything,’ Noun Bunthol said. 

He added that the search was continuing further north towards the Thai border.

Nak Phong, the fisherman who reported the tip and joined them on the search, said he had spotted a body in the waters on October 27 floating about 25 miles from the shore. 

The crew of a Cambodian navy patrol boat search for missing British national Amelia Bambridge on the shore of Koh Rong island last night

The crew of a Cambodian navy patrol boat search for missing British national Amelia Bambridge on the shore of Koh Rong island last night 

Amelia (pictured left alongside sister Georgie, right) had been dreaming of the trip for years and had sent messages home gushing about her experiences so far

Amelia (pictured left alongside sister Georgie, right) had been dreaming of the trip for years and had sent messages home gushing about her experiences so far

Miss Bambridge pictured during a previous trip in front of the Charles Bridge in Prague

Miss Bambridge pictured during a previous trip in front of the Charles Bridge in Prague

‘I did not know whether the body was a foreigner or not – I dared not go closer,’ he said. 

Police chief Chuon Narin said on Tuesday that the search has been expanded to nearby islands and further offshore in the Gulf of Thailand.

‘We have decided the search mission will not be ended until we find her alive, or her body if she has died,’ he said.

He added that local fishermen and neighbouring provinces in southwestern Cambodia have been alerted. 

Ms Bambridge’s father Phil Bambridge, who has travelled to the island, which is popular with backpackers, yesterday said he fears she has been abducted.

He told Sky News on Monday: ‘I don’t think she’s had an accident. If she’d had an accident she would have been found by now.’

Mr Bambridge said that, having viewed CCTV, he believed she had been lost inland.

During a phone call with her younger sister Georgie on Wednesday, Miss Bambridge said her first solo trip was ‘doing so much for her confidence’ and she was having ‘the best time ever’.

Amelia, who saved for the trip for two years by working at Lloyds bank, set off on September 27 and flew first to Vietnam. 

Koh Rong, a small island some 130 miles from the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh, is popular with backpackers for its crystal waters and sandy coves. 

Distinct Today is a news media company, focused on the intersection between hyper-relevant content and digital innovation. Distinct Today curates editorial news content, experiences, and events across multiple platforms including email, mobile, online and offline. Distinct Today is headquartered in Houston, Texas. The company is privately held. Distinct Today targets an affluent, college-educated audience.