Amelia Bambridge: Body of British student found at sea more than 60 miles away from where she went missing

Phoebe Southworth
Amelia's father on a speedboat with family members during the search for the student, who was a on a gap year in Cambodia - AP

The body of a British student on a gap year in Cambodia has been found at sea more than 60 miles away from where she went missing.

Amelia Bambridge, 21, from Worthing, West Sussex, vanished from a beach party on the picturesque Koh Rong island in Sihanoukville Province at around 3am on October 24.

Just a few hours before she disappeared, she had called her sister Georgie to say that she was having the "best time ever" and everyone there was "so cool".

Fishermen spotted her body floating in the Gulf of Thailand today, 62 miles northwest from Police Beach where she was last seen partying with friends.

Deputy navy commander Tea Sokha told local media that Amelia's distinctive tattoos and the clothes she was wearing led them to conclude it was her. A formal identification is expected to take place tomorrow.

Last night Koh Rong island fell silent and bar music was switched off as a mark of respect to her family, who had flown out to Cambodia to help with the search.

Among the heartbreaking tributes to the student was a message from her brother Harry, who wrote on social media: "There’s nothing more I wanted than to bring her back alive. I'm sorry Amelia - the round is on me when we meet again in heaven."

Her sister Sharon added: "It breaks my heart to let all my close family and friends know the horrendous outcome that we didn't want.

"Now we have to get our Amelia back home to England so we can lay her beautiful soul to rest and to remember the wonderful life she lived."

East Worthing and Shoreham MP Tim Loughton said he was "devastated" to her the "terribly sad news" and that "the thoughts and prayers of everyone in Worthing are with her family and friends."

Amelia's father on a speedboat with family members during the search for the student, who was a on a gap year in Cambodia Credit: Heng Sinith/AP

Amelia had been staying in the Nest Beach Club hostel, a 40-minute walk away from the beach, and had planned to leave the island on October 25. It was her first solo trip abroad.

But she never returned to the hostel and her purple rucksack containing her purse, phone and bank cards was found on rocks on the shore of Police Beach.

Yorng Seng, of Koh Rong island's military police, told The Telegraph that her body was found at 4pm floating very close to the sea border with Thailand.

A post-mortem will be carried out in Sihanoukville on the Cambodian mainland. Chuon Narin, police chief of Preah Sihanouk province, said early indications suggest she drowned.

Larry Risser, the CEO of Apex-Fire, a private search and rescue company based in Thailand, told The Telegraph that water currents and weather conditions mean Amelia's body could have naturally drifted so far from the shore.

He suggested her drink could have been spiked, referring to the prevalence of local drugs that could cause hallucinations and disorientation.

“It all comes back to what happened at 3am," he said. “Maybe somebody put something in her drink."

Six Cambodian men working on the island were previously questioned by police in relation to her disappearance and released without charge.  

Amelia's family had feared she was abducted or got lost on her way back to the hostel, and appealed to local backpackers to help find her.

Her mother Linda, 52, had said she was "so organised" and it was "very out of character" for her to go missing. Relatives flew out to help look for her alongside 147 police officers, soldiers and divers.

A specialist search-and-rescue dog unit and a drone were also brought in to scour the jungle and coastline for any trace of the student.

More than £16,000 was fundraised by the family to help with the search.

A petition set up on behalf of Amelia's loved-ones previously criticised Britain's Foreign Office for providing "little support" and leaving the family to "run the entire operation".  

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said they are in contact with the Cambodian authorities and are continuing to support Amelia's family.