7 continue search for Orang Asli girl, two weeks on

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PETALING JAYA: The search continues for an Orang Asli girl who has been missing for nearly two weeks, with those close to the rescue effort remaining optimistic she will be found alive.

Ayeng @ Kamiliah Anab, nine, disappeared on Jan 13 after wandering off from a group of other Jahai villagers she was with on their way back to their settlement in Kampung Selaor in the Temenggor Forest Reserve in Perak.

Police, the fire and rescue department, the department of wildlife and national parks (Perhilitan), the department of Orang Asli development and a number of other groups had earlier been deployed to search for her, but ended their search after five days without success.

Since Saturday, however, a group of four rescuers from the environmental conservation NGO Panthera and three Temiar men have taken up the search effort with a sniffer dog.

Colin Nicholas, a coordinator at the Centre for Orang Asli Concerns, said a number of factors had complicated the latest round of rescue efforts.

“It has been very hot and dry in the search area since she has been missing, and this means scents tend to dissipate quickly,” he told FMT.

“Also, the earlier attempts to find her had involved over a hundred people, and that may have compromised some of the evidence. We have still not found any evidence of her presence, let alone the girl.”

The current team of rescuers from Panthera had been instrumental in finding Tarmizi Ahmad Japli, a Perhilitan ranger who was missing in the Yong Forest Reserve in Taman Negara for two weeks, in 2018.

Nicholas said while Orang Asli children who had gone missing before had been found alive after as many as 30 days, “albeit as skin and bones”, due to their familiarity with the forest, there were some concerns about Ayeng’s ability to adapt and fend for herself.

“She is hard of hearing and slightly mentally impaired, so she may not have the same skills as others who had been lost. That is what’s worrying at the moment.

“However, we are still optimistic she can be found alive, it’s still not too late,” he said.

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