Nora Quoirin was missing in the Malaysian jungle for more than a week
The body of Nora Quoirin has been found in the Malaysian jungle near a waterfall that the missing schoolgirl had excitedly talked about visiting.
The grim discovery was made more than a week after the 15-year-old disappeared from an eco-resort during a two-week family holiday.
Her body was found unclothed by a group of hikers who had joined the tenth day of a widespread search operation across the perilous terrain.
The teenager’s devastated family faced an agonising wait last night to find out whether her death had resulted from an accident or a crime.
Police chiefs insisted the disappearance was still being treated as a missing persons case, though a parallel criminal probe remains open.
Investigators said they were awaiting the results of a post-mortem examination before deciding on the next steps.
Matthew Searle, head of missing persons charity the Lucie Blackman Trust, which is working with Nora’s family, said: ‘It’s absolutely the outcome that none of us was hoping for.
‘They [the family] are going to have a large amount of questions.
‘One of those questions is has the body been there all the time or is there a criminal involvement? Was the body dumped there afterwards?’
Volunteers discovered Nora’s body at 1.57pm yesterday close to a stream at the foot of a ravine on Berembun mountain, 1.6 miles from the Dusun resort where Nora’s family was staying.
The waterfall at the eco-resort in Malaysia where missing Nora Quoirin’s body was found
The area, which is popular with local tourists and located in an area known as the Pantai hills, had previously been searched – but no clues were found.
The Dusun resort offers guided tours to the Lata Berembun waterfall, involving a 20-minute trek to the jungle entrance and a further one-hour walk along a defined jungle trail.
In a sad twist, it emerged yesterday that the teenager – who was born with a debilitating brain condition – had been keenly anticipating a trip to the waterfall.
Only hours before her body was discovered, a member of the hiking club that found her said the group had been instructed to check the location.
Shirley Yap, who was among a group of around 20 volunteers from the nearby town of Seremban, said: ‘We had heard she was excited about seeing a waterfall when she arrived in the resort.’
The hikers, including leader Kenny Chan, were taken to give statements at a police station in the nearby village of Pantai, which served as the headquarters for the search operation.
Following the discovery, the schoolgirl’s devastated parents, Meabh and Sebastien, were taken to the area where her body was found.
They were later supported at the resort by relatives who had flown in from Singapore, London and Glasgow.
Nora had travelled to the 12-acre resort on August 3 with her parents, sister Innes, 12, and brother Maurice, eight.
After going to sleep with her siblings in an upstairs bedroom, she was discovered missing by her French father shortly after 8am the following morning.
Police were left with no clues about her whereabouts other than that a large downstairs window at the property had been left ajar.
Sniffer dogs lost her scent around 100 yards from the two-storey holiday cottage.
It is understood that Nora was wearing only underwear at the time of her disappearance, while a police chief previously confirmed that she was barefoot at the time.
Nora’s family searched in vain for the missing schoolgirl for more than a week
The schoolgirl’s grandfather, Sylvain Quoirin, who is a mayor in France, had previously said it was ‘unthinkable’ Nora would have wandered off alone because of the severity of her learning difficulties.
Nora’s parents identified her body last night at Tuanku Ja’afar hospital in Seremban. She had been airlifted there after being winched out of the jungle.
A post-mortem examination will be carried out by senior pathologists from Kuala Lumpur this morning.
State police chief Mohamad Mat Yusof, who has led the searches, said: ‘We will inform the post-mortem result tomorrow. Based on that we will decide if we need to investigate further if we are not satisfied.’
He said that the search and rescue operation had yet to be called off, should authorities need to look for more evidence tomorrow.
The deputy chief of Malaysia’s police force Mazlan Mansor had earlier said that officers have so far found no evidence of criminal behaviour.
But he refused to confirm whether Nora had suffered any injuries or if anybody else may have been involved in her death.
He described Nora as ‘completely naked’ but ‘intact’ when she was found, adding it was too soon to determine how long her body had been at the scene.
Nora’s parents, who have lived in London for 20 years, had previously expressed fears that the schoolgirl had been abducted and had put up a £10,000 reward for information. Mrs Quoirin, 45, held back tears during a statement in which she said the family’s ‘hearts are breaking’ without her.
‘Nora is our first child. She has been vulnerable since the day she was born,’ she said.
A police vehicle at the entrance to the Dusun Resort where Nora vanished
The teenager had a smaller than average brain and struggled to act independently having been born with Patau’s syndrome, or holoprosencephaly.
The condition left her struggling to complete everyday tasks and with limited speech, walking ability and co-ordination.
During the search operation, rescuers had also played Mrs Quoirin’s voice through loudspeakers in the hope her daughter would hear, saying: ‘Nora, darling, Nora, I love you, Mummy is here.’
Mr and Mrs Quoirin, a data analysis firm salesman and market research company director, met in Northern Ireland and the family live in Streatham, south London.
The search for Nora had involved up to 350 staff from various government bodies over a period of ten days, alongside helicopters and drones equipped with thermal imagining technology.
British, Irish and French police had been dispatched to Malaysia to join the search. Scotland Yard said it was ready to deploy remote support.
The Dusun resort, located around 39 miles south of Kuala Lumpur, is nestled in the foothills of the Titiwangsa Mountains and borders the Berembun Forest Reserve.
The jungle is home to an array of harmful animals, including snakes, biting insects, tigers and wild boar.