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"Jungle Woman" Found After 19 Years

A woman who disappeared in the jungles of northeastern Cambodia as a child has been found 19 years later, police and a man claiming to be her father said.

The woman — identified as Rochom P'ngieng, 27 — does not speak any intelligible language, according to Sal Lou, a village policeman who said he is her father. Sal Lou said Thursday he recognized his daughter by a scar on her right arm.

Rochom P'ngieng, then 8, disappeared in 1988 while herding buffalo in a remote area, said Chea Bunthoeun, a deputy provincial police chief in Rattanakiri province some 200 miles northeast of the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh.

The woman was found Saturday after a villager noticed that food had disappeared from a lunch box he left near his farm, Chea Bunthoeun said.

"She was shaking and picking up grains of rice from the ground to eat," Sal Lou, 45, told The Associated Press by telephone from the province's Oyadao district, where the woman was found.

When she is hungry, she pats her stomach as a signal, he said.

"If she is not sleeping, she just sits and glances left and right, left and right," Sal Lou said. He said his family was closely watching the woman, who he said took off her clothes Thursday and acted as if she was going back into the jungle.

Many questions remain about the circumstances of the girl's disappearance and what happened to her, said Mao San, police chief of Oyadao district. Officials want to take DNA samples from the parents and the woman to see if they match, and the parents have agreed, he said.