Jun­gle search for Nora Quoirin finds her body

The Guardian - - Front Page - Hannah El­lis-Petersen

A post­mortem ex­am­i­na­tion will de­ter­mine the cause of death of Nora Quoirin, the 15-year-old Lon­doner whose body was for­mally iden­ti­fied by her par­ents yesterday, hours af­ter it was found in the Malaysian jun­gle.

Af­ter an ag­o­nis­ing 10-day search, which in­volved more than 350 vol­un­teers and drew of­fers of sup­port from around the world, Nora’s body was dis­cov­ered by a team of lo­cal hik­ers about 1.2 miles from the re­sort where she had been on hol­i­day with her fam­ily.

News of the find was an­nounced by Mo­hamad Mat Yu­sof, the po­lice chief for Negeri Sem­bi­lan state. “The fam­ily con­firmed that the body found is in­deed miss­ing Nora Anne,” he said. “Both par­ents, the mother and fa­ther, con­firmed it.”

He said there would be a post­mortem ex­am­i­na­tion to­day and the po­lice would then de­ter­mine whether fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tions were nec­es­sary. Po­lice have not ruled out a “crim­i­nal el­e­ment” in Nora’s dis­ap­pear­ance.

An of­fi­cial told re­porters ear­lier that a body had been found, which re­sem­bled Nora, and had been taken to hos­pi­tal by he­li­copter.

The re­mains were un­cov­ered near a stream at about 2pm yesterday by mem­bers of the

Seremban hik­ers club, who had joined po­lice, lo­cals and mem­bers of the in­dige­nous Orang Asli tribes­peo­ple in the search-and-res­cue op­er­a­tion.

The area in the Betem­bum moun­tains where her body was found – which was de­scribed by the po­lice chief as “not an ac­ces­si­ble place” – had al­ready been scoured by the res­cue team days ear­lier.

Nora’s fam­ily were in­formed of the news shortly af­ter the body was dis­cov­ered and were seen en­ter­ing Tuanku Ja’afar hos­pi­tal.

A state­ment from the Lu­cie Black­man Trust, which is rep­re­sent­ing the fam­ily, said: “The Lu­cie Black­man Trust can con­firm with great sad­ness that the body found to­day is that of miss­ing teenager Nora Quoirin. Lo­cal po­lice have con­firmed iden­ti­fi­ca­tion.”

The char­ity asked for the fam­ily to be left to grieve, adding: “All at the Lu­cie Black­man Trust are think­ing of the fam­ily and con­tinue to sup­port them as they come to terms with this news.”

Nora, who was born with the neu­ro­log­i­cal dis­or­der holo­pros­en­cephaly and needed help with many as­pects of ev­ery­day life, had been miss­ing for 10 days. She and her fam­ily, in­clud­ing her par­ents and two younger sib­lings, had ar­rived at the Dusun eco-re­sort in the Negeri Sem­bi­lan area, about 40 miles south of Kuala Lumpur, last Satur­day for a two-week hol­i­day.

They had all gone to bed that night, Nora shar­ing a room with her brother and sis­ter, but by the next morn­ing they dis­cov­ered she had gone. A large win­dow in the ho­tel room was found open and while her fam­ily in­sisted she had been ab­ducted, the po­lice con­tin­ued to treat the in­ci­dent as a miss­ing per­son case.

In­dige­nous track­ers – and re­port­edly a shaman – were among those to have joined the search. Nora’s mother, Me­abh Quoirin, made an emo­tional ap­peal for help in finding her on Mon­day, and a £10,000 re­ward was of­fered by an anony­mous Belfast­based busi­ness for in­for­ma­tion lead­ing to her safe re­turn.

The Quoirins had said Nora’s con­di­tion meant she was not in­de­pen­dent and had dif­fi­culty walk­ing.

Search crews look­ing for Nora had played her mother’s voice in the dense Malaysian forest near where she dis­ap­peared. She could be heard say­ing “Nora, dar­ling, Nora, I love you, Mum is here,” on the record­ing. On Fri­day, com­man­dos from VAT 69, the Malaysian po­lice’s elite spe­cial forces unit, were de­ployed to as­sist the search.

Nora’s par­ents thanked those look­ing for her as fundrais­ing pages set up by the teenager’s aunt and un­cle raised more than £100,000.

Ap­pear­ing be­fore cam­eras on Mon­day, her mother said: “Nora is our first child. She has been vul­ner­a­ble since the day she was born. She is so pre­cious to us and our hearts are break­ing.”

The tragedy prompted grief in Ire­land, where Nora’s mother comes from, and con­do­lences from se­nior politi­cians there. Fol­low­ing the con­fir­ma­tion that Nora’s body had been found, the prime min­is­ter, Leo Varad­kar, tweeted: “Our thoughts & sin­cere con­do­lences are with Nora Quoirin’s par­ents, sib­lings & wider fam­ily at this unimag­in­ably dif­fi­cult time.

“They have ex­pe­ri­enced ev­ery fam­ily’s worst night­mare. I’d like to pay trib­ute to ev­ery­one who searched for Nora. May she rest in peace.”

Michael Hig­gins, the Ir­ish pres­i­dent, of­fered the fam­ily “deep­est con­do­lences”. Si­mon Coveney, Ire­land’s deputy prime min­is­ter and for­eign min­is­ter, tweeted: “At this har­row­ing time all of our thoughts and prayers are with the fam­ily.”


Nora Quoirin, who went miss­ing in a Malaysian rain­for­est re­sort, with her mother, Me­abh


▲ Malaysian po­lice at the spot where Nora Quoirin’s body was found, about 1.5 miles from where she was last seen

▲ Nora, top, whose body was found by hik­ers who had joined po­lice and lo­cals in the search op­er­a­tion

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