Malaysia steps up search for missing Franco-Irish teen


KUALA LUMPUR: A helicopter and dozens of people were deployed Tuesday on the third day of a search for a vulnerable London teenager who went missing from a Malaysian rainforest resort, police said.

The search effort left the grandfather of Nora Quoirin, 15, optimistic she will be found despite the “extremely mysterious” circumstances of her disappearance.

Nora went missing on Sunday morning, after she and her family checked in to the Dusun Resort, about an hour from the capital Kuala Lumpur.

The teen, who has learning difficulties, is the daughter of a Franco-Irish couple.

The helicopter and 178 people from various government agencies searched for her through the jungles near the resort, said senior police official Mohamad Mat Yusop.

“We will do our best and will not give up hope,” he told reporters. “We feel she did not go far.”

Police have classified her disappearance as a missing person case and are not treating it as an abduction.

But the girl’s family have told the Lucie Blackman Trust, a British charity that supports the families of British people who go missing abroad, that they suspect foul play.

The Dusun is a 12-acre (five-hectare) resort in the foothills of a mountain range and next to a forest reserve.

On Sunday morning the teen’s family couldn’t find her in her hotel room, which had a window open, a relative in France said.

“Nora disappeared in extremely mysterious conditions since she was sleeping in the room with her sister and brother”, her grandfather Sylvain Quoirin told AFP.

“In the morning, the window was open and she had disappeared, whereas after an 18-hour flight and a seven-hour time difference you would sleep soundly and not go for a stroll at night,” Quoirin said by phone from Venisy, in north-central France where he is the mayor.

“Everyone went to bed tired, and in the morning Nora wasn’t there.”

The family had planned to stay for two weeks, he said, and Nora was “absolutely not” in the habit of running off.

“This is a young girl with a mild handicap who is rather timid, reserved. She is someone very fearful.”

Quoirin said he understood that the French ambassador had met high-level Malaysian officials over the case.

“I dare to believe that we are going to find her because enormous means have been put in place,” he added.

“Things are being done seriously now.”

The resort’s management said in a Facebook post that its employees were “extremely distressed and worried” about her disappearance and were assisting in the search.

One of Nora’s aunts, Aisling Agnew from Belfast, has set up an online fundraising campaign that aims to help cover expenses of other family members who are travelling to Malaysia to join the search effort.