Three French Women Stranded Overnight in Kep Forest Saved

Three French women found themselves stranded in Kep National Park on Sunday night after losing their way in the forest, the day after a 200-strong search team was deployed to find a French family that became lost inside the Angkor Archaeological Park in Siem Reap province.

Kep provincial governor Ken Sotha said Clara Povchelon, 25, Amme Sara Satin, 25, and Lea Eloty, 24, traveled to a pepper plantation in Kep from their hotel in neighboring Kampot province on Sunday morning before visiting the national park that afternoon.

spiritsThe women were dropped off at the entrance to the park by a tuk-tuk driver at about 5 p.m. and told him to return an hour later, he said. But by 7 p.m., seeing no sign of the women, the driver alerted provincial police, who mobilized a search team.

“We used about 60 provincial police officers, military police officers and park conservationists to search for the three women until 1 a.m., but our forces were not able to find them because it was so dark,” Mr. Sotha said.

Authorities resumed their search at 7 a.m. on Monday and soon spotted the women walking toward the park’s exit, he said. “They became lost after walking and turning along the many roads inside the national park.”

The women, who were not carrying food or water, told authorities that they had walked in the direction of the sun, leading them to the exit, Mr. Sotha said.

“Authorities invited them to eat breakfast, but they refused, so we took them to their hotel in Kampot province.”

Kep provincial police chief Ing Sam Ol said his officers had come within 300 meters of the women during their initial search and were possibly prevented from reaching them by ancestral spirits living in the forest.

“Maybe the spirits did not allow us to meet them as they wanted them to stay overnight so the mosquitoes could bite them because the spirits were angry that they walked in and invaded the forest,” he said.

About 200 officials were dispatched to the forests around Kbal Spean mountain in Siem Reap on Saturday morning in search of a French family and their tour guide who became stranded the night before after straying from well-trodden paths. They were spotted by a helicopter at 8:30 a.m.

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