Nóra Quoirin search: ‘We do not know how long she can survive’
Malaysian police ‘worried’ as search for missing Irish teenager enters eighth day
Nóra Quoirin’s parents, Meabh (centre-right) and Sebastien (right) on Saturday in Malaysia. Photograph: Royal Malaysian Police/EPA
The search for Irish teenager Nóra Quoirin is now in its eighth day and police say there are still no concrete leads about the schoolgirl’s disappearance from a holiday resort in Malaysia.
Police have set up a local hotline number to try and get more information from the public.
Muslims are celebrating Hari Raya Aidiladha and the Malaysian Insight reported that, at sunrise on Sunday, members of the search-and-rescue team, including the Nilai district police chief, Mohd Nor Marzukee Besar, joined about 500 local people at the Kariah Pantai Mosque in Seremban, where about 300 people had offered special prayers for Nóra on Friday.
The Irish pop group Westlife and the popular Malaysian actress Fasha Sandha have made personal appeals, calling for every assistance in the search for the vulnerable teenager.
The search-and-rescue teams are now scouring a narrowed-down area close to the Dusun resort from which Nóra went missing last weekend. They are rechecking places already examined. Heavy rain has made conditions particularly difficult for those searching in the rainforest.
Nóra’s father, Sebastien, raised the alarm last Sunday morning when he discovered that Nóra was not in the bedroom she was sharing with her younger siblings. The family had only checked in to the resort the previous day, intending to stay for a two-week holiday.
Over the past week, hundreds of people have been searching the jungle for 15-year-old Nóra, who has learning and developmental disabilities.
Negeri Sembilan police chief Mohamad Mat Yusop told reporters on Saturday that police were very worried about Nóra’s welfare. “We do not know how long she can survive,” he said.
Mr Mohamad on Saturday said the search area has been reduced from a 6km to 4km radius. More personnel have been drafted in, including members of the elite 69 Commando unit of the Royal Malaysian Police.
On Sunday, he said that in the 10 years since it was established, there had never been a missing person case at the Dusun resort.
Nearly 300 people were involved in the search on Sunday. They include expert indigenous trackers from the Senoi Praaq special unit. Helicopters and drones equipped with thermal imaging cameras have been deployed.
To aid in the search for Nóra, a recording of her mother’s voice is being played via loudhailers. Search teams are also playing the recording on their phones as they move through the jungle.
Police have confirmed that they are liaising with Interpol about Nóra’s disappearance.
An Garda Síochána has deployed a Garda liaison officer to Kuala Lumpur to assist the Department of Foreign Affairs, which is providing consular assistance to the family
The garda will liaise as required with the Malaysian police and UK and French authorities.
On Saturday, Nóra’s mother Meabh thanked search-and-rescue teams for their efforts in the operation so far.
Being comforted by her husband while she spoke, she said: “We want to say thank you to each and every one of you. We know you are searching night and day for Nóra.
“We see you working so hard and also praying with us, being with us. We know you have given up your time, especially at a special festival time, to be with us here. It means the world to us and we are so grateful for everything that you are doing for us, everyone here and everyone who is helping who is not here.
“We are extremely impressed with the effort, your expertise, your dedication and we hope you find Nóra, and thank you so much. Terima kasih (thank you).”
This was the first time Nóra’s mother had spoken publicly about her daughter’s disappearance. The Lucie Blackman Trust, which supports British nationals in crisis overseas, has been helping the Quoirins to deal with the media.
Nóra’s family believes that she has been abducted. Police say the case is still officially that of a missing person, and there is no evidence of foul play, but they add that they are ruling nothing out.
Police found unidentified fingerprints on a window that was open in the downstairs living room of the guest house the Quoirin family are occupying, but there has been no announcement as yet about the results of forensic examination of the prints.
Nóra’s family issued a statement on Friday, going into great detail about the type of person she is.
Nóra is “fun, funny, and extremely loving,” they said. “She is not like other teenagers. She is not independent and does not go anywhere alone.”
Nóra’s verbal communication is limited. She cannot make or receive phone calls independently. She can wash and dress herself, but cannot manage buttons, and 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 was born with holoprosencephaly, a rare congenital brain malformation resulting from incomplete separation of the right and left hemispheres.