Northern Ireland news

Family of teenage girl missing in Malaysia describe her as `funny, and extremely loving'

Nora Quoirin has been missing in Malaysia since Sunday
Marie Louise McConville

The family of a 15-year-old British schoolgirl with learning difficulties who vanished on holiday in Malaysia have made a fresh plea for information, saying: "She is not like other teenagers... she does not go anywhere alone."

Nora Quoirin, whose mother Meabh is from Belfast, has been missing from The Dusun rainforest resort since Sunday.

The schoolgirl, who lives in London with her parents and two siblings, arrived at the resort with them in southwest Kuala Lumpur on Saturday.

When her French father checked her room in the holiday cottage on Sunday morning, she was missing.

Since then, major searches have been taking place in the area involving around 260 people aided by drones, helicopters and sniffer dogs.

Those searching include a special police team and people with forest tracking skills.

Police have treated the disappearance as a missing person case but have said they have not ruled out a criminal element.

Nora's family believe she was abducted.

Those searching are playing comforting recordings of the schoolgirl's mother's voice on loudspeakers in the hope it may draw her to them.

There were media reports yesterday that searches had found footprints.

Ahmad Mukhlis Mokhtar, State Fire and Rescue Department operation division assistant director, said they were investigating the footprints.

"Previously, our detective canines had spotted footprints, but when we conducted a search there, we couldn't find her".

Yesterday, the family revealed further detail about Nora's medical condition.

Speaking to RTÉ News, they said Nora had been born with Holoprosencephaly, which means she has a smaller brain.

"All her life she has spent a lot of time in hospital," the family said.

"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."

The family said Nora is "not independent and does not go anywhere alone".

"She can wash and dress herself, though she cannot manage buttons, and struggles to wash her hair," they said.

"At school, she is learning to ride a bicycle properly. Nóra likes to walk with her family, but her balance is limited and she struggles with coordination. She has been to Asia, and many European countries before, and has never wandered off or got lost.

"Nóra and her family are bi-lingual and bi-cultural. Nóra is very proud that she can speak French as well as English. But her 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. She cannot make or receive phone-calls independently".

The family described Nóra as "a very special person".

"She is fun, funny, and extremely loving. With her family, she is very affectionate - family is her whole world and she loves to play games, like Cat Bingo, with us.

"She likes to tell us silly jokes and wear clever, colourful t-shirts. She is not like other teenagers.

"Nóra is very sensitive. Outside the family, Nóra is very shy and can be quite anxious. Every night, her special time is for cuddles and a night-time story with her Mum. And she was extremely excited about the family holiday in Malaysia".

"The family would again like to take this opportunity to express their sincere thanks to the Royal Malaysian Police, and all those searching for Nóra. Some of these people have been working all day, every day and the family cannot express their gratitude enough."

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