Missing Nóra Quoirin ‘does not go anywhere alone’, family says

Malaysian search for Irish-French girl, who parents say is ‘not like other teenagers’

"Mummy's here, love. I know you are there", this is the recording a Malaysian search and rescue team played to look for Nora Quoirin in dense forest reserve, nearly one week after the teen was reported missing. Video: Reuters

 

The family of missing teenager Nóra Quoirin have renewed their plea for information about her whereabouts, saying she is “not like other teenagers” and “does not go anywhere alone”.

As the search for the Franco-Irish 15-year-old enters its seventh day on Saturday, Nóra’s relatives plan to address search-and-rescue teams to thank them for all they have done so far to try and locate the missing schoolgirl.

About 250 people have been scouring the jungle next to the Dusun holiday resort, about 63 km south of the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur. Extra personnel were drafted in on Friday and An Garda Síochána has deployed a garda liaison officer to Kuala Lumpur to assist the Department of Foreign Affairs who are providing consular assistance to the family

The garda will liaise as required with the Malaysian police and UK and French authorities in the operation.

Nóra’s family issued a statement on Friday, going into great detail about the type of person she is.

“Nóra is a very special person,” they said. “She is fun, funny, and extremely loving. With her family, she is very affectionate. She likes to tell us silly jokes and wear clever, colourful t-shirts. She is not like other teenagers. She is not independent and does not go anywhere alone.”

Nóra’s verbal communication is limited. “Nóra can read like a young child, but she cannot write more than a few words. She has a good memory, but she cannot understand anything conceptual She is unable to do maths and so things like money are impossible to manage,” the family said.

They explained that she cannot make or receive phone calls independently, that she can wash and dress herself, but cannot manage buttons, and that she struggles to wash her hair.

“Nóra likes to walk with her family, but her balance is limited and she struggles with co-ordination. She has been to Asia, and many European countries before, and has never wandered off or got lost,” her family said.

Nóra’s relatives explained that she was born with holoprosencephaly, which, they say, means that her brain is small. Holoprosencephaly is a rare congenital brain malformation resulting from incomplete separation of the right and left hemispheres.

“All her life she has spent a lot of time in hospital. When she was born, she needed operations to help her breathing. She has specialists that monitor her growth, her physical abilities and her strength, and especially her mental capacity.

“Nóra has always needed dedicated specialist educational provision, and now attends a school for children and young people with learning and communication difficulties.”

Search operation

Expert indigenous trackers are involved in the search operation, divers have been scouring the river that runs through the forest and helicopters and drones equipped with thermal imaging cameras have been deployed.

The deputy police chief for Negeri Sembilan, Che Zakaria Othman, said on Friday that members of the elite 69 Commando unit of the Royal Malaysian Police are now assisting in the search.

Numerous media reports have claimed that fire-and-rescue personnel, assisted by sniffer dogs, found footprints in the jungle that they thought might be Nóra’s, but Mr Othman said on Friday no footprints had been found.

A police officer pastes a photo of missing 15-year-old Irish girl Nora Quoirin on a wall at a shop in Seremban, Malaysia, August 9th, 2019. Photograph: Lim Huey Teng/Reuters
A police officer pastes a photo of missing 15-year-old Irish girl Nora Quoirin on a wall at a shop in Seremban, Malaysia, August 9th, 2019. Photograph: Lim Huey Teng/Reuters

Questioned about the living room window, through which police think Nóra may have exited the guest house, Mr Othman said the window could be opened from outside if not locked on the inside.

Police have released photographs of the window, on which they found unidentified fingerprints, which are now being analysed.

To aid in the search for Nóra, a recording of her mother Meabh’s voice is being played via loudspeakers. Search teams are also playing the recording of Meabh’s voice on their mobile phones as they go through the jungle.

The open window at the Dusan resort. Photograph: Malaysian Police
The open window at the Dusan resort. Photograph: Malaysian Police

While the Malaysian police have been saying the case is officially that of a missing person and that there is no evidence of foul play, they have added that they are ruling nothing out. Nóra’s relatives believe that she has been abducted.

Nóra’s father reported her disappearance last Sunday morning when he discovered she was missing from her room at the Dusun resort. The family had checked in at the resort last Saturday morning, August 3rd.

The Berembun Forest Reserve, which is next to the resort, is a popular spot for hikers. Many visitors scale Gunung Telapak Buruk (the highest mountain in the vicinity) and another attraction is the site where a second World War plane crashed. Locals say many hikers get lost when night falls as they underestimate the time it will take to get to the crash site, and don’t have a torch.