Malaysian villagers spotted a ‘white girl’ swimming in a river near the resort where Nora Quoirin vanished a day after she disappeared from her resort room.
The sighting has taken on new significance after the 15-year-old with learning difficulties was found starved to death after wandering through the jungle for up to a week while Malaysian police searched for her.
The British schoolgirl was discovered near a waterfall on the tenth day of an intensive search near the eco-resort she was staying in with her family.
But police received reports just two days after she vanished from a local who had spotted a ‘white girl’ swimming in a nearby river on the Sunday she disappeared.
The possible sighting will inevitably compound her parent’s agony as to why the teenager was not found sooner.
Reports of a ‘white woman’ swimming in a Malaysian jungle river have taken on new significance after it emerged Nora Quoirin was lost for a week before dying of starvation
Nora was alive for a week while rescue teams desperately combed the jungle before she died from intestinal damage likely caused by hunger and stress, an autopsy revealed.
It emerged that her naked body was discovered near a waterfall she had been ‘excited’ to visit on the second time the area was searched.
The ravine where she was found – which is only 1.6 miles from the lodge – was repeatedly combed by rescue teams during the first seven days of her disappearance. Police have been unable to adequately explain why she was missed.
The fact that she was found naked when it was thought she left the family apartment wearing underwear, raised the prospect she had been kidnapped and dumped.
Malaysian police chief Mohamad Yusop received reports just two days after Nora vanished from a local who had spotted a ‘white woman’ swimming in a nearby river on the Sunday she disappeared
The naked body of Nora, who had serious learning difficulties, was found by a hiker near a waterfall on Tuesday – ten days after she went missing
But it now appears that she wandered off into the jungle and got lost before succumbing to starvation. It is not clear what happened to her clothes.
Her parents are not ruling out the possibility she was abducted and are waiting for the results of DNA and toxicology tests before pursuing a criminal probe, despite police believing otherwise.
Charles Morell, lawyer for parents Sebastien and Meabh, said the pair ‘cannot understand how Nora could leave by herself’ and urged ‘caution’ over post-mortem results.
Meanwhile, Sylvain Quoirin, Nora’s paternal grandfather, told the Irish Times that ‘dark areas need to be cleared up for the family to be able to grieve in peace.’
It emerged that her naked body was discovered near a waterfall she had been ‘excited’ to visit on the second time the area was searched
He said: ‘She wasn’t there [during previous searches]. Someone put her there, to get rid of her.
‘Can you imagine her walking 1.5miles, naked and barefoot, over rocks, in the middle of the night? For me, that’s absurd.’
Despite the family’s questions, Malaysian police chief Mohamed Yosup insisted that she had been ‘mobile’ in the jungle in the area that rescue teams were searching.
However, teams moved to a different area on the seventh day which is the day pathologists believe she died, and Mr Yosup believes she was narrowly missed.
Nora, who suffered from learning difficulties, was reported missing on August 4 during a family holiday after her parents woke to find a window to their apartment open and their daughter gone.
Nora Quiorin, the 15-year-old schoolgirl found dead in the Malaysian jungle Tuesday, survived for a week before dying of intestinal damage caused by starvation
A 10-day search involving hundreds of police, volunteers, sniffer dogs, helicopters and shaman was launched to find her, before her body was discovered.
After volunteer hikers found her body, she was taken to a hospital in Seremban where pathologists carried out a post-mortem, with the results revealed at a press conference this morning.
Malaysia’s Deputy Commissioner Datuk Mohamad Mat Yusop told reporters that Nora likely died two to three days before her body was found, meaning she was alive and lost in the jungle for six or seven days.
The ruptured intestine was most likely caused by stress brought by not eating any food, medics said.
Mr Yusop said she had not eaten any food and this was a factor in her death.
He added that the Quoirins are now able to claim their daughter’s body for burial and return to London.
A statement issued by Nora’s family before the post-mortem results were revealed said: ‘We would like to thank all the people that have been searching for Nóra and trying their best to find her.
‘We thank the local people here and those far and wide for their prayers and support at this time. Nóra has brought people together, especially from France, Ireland, Britain and Malaysia, united in their love and support for her and her family.
‘She has truly touched the whole world. To all our friends and family at home, we can’t thank you enough for all your love.
Emergency services and rescue workers arrive at the Dusun Resort, where Nora went missing from her family’s apartment on August 4
‘Nóra is at the heart of our family. She is the truest, most precious girl and we love her infinitely. The cruelty of her being taken away is unbearable. Our hearts are broken. We will always love our Nóra.’
Sean Yeap, a member of the search team which found Nora, previously described the moment he discovered her body in the jungle.
Speaking to Mail Online, he said: ‘It looked like she was sleeping. Her head was resting on her hands.
‘But we all knew she was dead.
‘It was very sad and two women in the group did not want to come close and they started crying.
‘I think maybe she was elsewhere and walked to the stream perhaps to drink some water.
‘The place where she was found is not easy to find. I wonder if she had been following the stream as there were no footprints which means she could have been walking in the water as it was not very deep.’
Sean Yeap, a volunteer who was among the party which found Nora’s body, said she was lying with her head resting on her hands and looked like she was asleep
Mr Yeap, an insurance salesman, was with a group of 24 experienced hikers who had left the Dusun resort – where the family had been staying – to look for Nora on the 10th day of the search having volunteered to join.
Led by team leader Kenny Chan, the men and women set off to follow a trail on a palm oil plantation about 1.2miles from where Nora disappeared on August 4th.
He said they met an Indian man who told them he was familiar with the area and would assist them.
They followed a trail through the oil plantation when one of the group said he could smell a strong odour coming from the jungle.
In an undated handout form the Lucie Blackman trust, Nora stands by a waterfall. The teen was ‘excited’ to visit the waterfall near her resort in Malaysia
It was then they came across tragic Nora’s body near a waterfall that the missing schoolgirl had excitedly talked about visiting.
Yeap and the others, including housewife Shirley Yap, stood back from the shocking discovery and waited for police.
Two of the group began crying and were comforted by others.
‘We knew not to touch the body and let the police do their work,’ he said.
‘The police took about 40 minutes to get there and sealed of the scene. We all had to make statements at the police station.’
A lawyer for parents Meabh and Sebastien said they are still concerned their daughter was abducted and are waiting for the results of DNA and toxicology tests to decide whether or not to pursue a criminal probe
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.
She had a condition known as holoprosencephaly, where the brain fails to develop normally, had limited verbal communication and could only write a few words.
She attended a school for young people with learning and communication difficulties.
Yeap, a Chinese/Malay who spoke through an interpreter, said he feels nothing but sadness for Nora’s parents.
‘I feel so sorry for them but I am glad that we were able to find the body and they did not have to wait even longer to know what happened.’
Malaysian police chief Mohamad Yusop insisted that Nora was alive and evaded searchers for six days in the jungle before they moved on, then discovered her body when they returned to the previous search area after 10 days
Other member of the group who belong to the Kepayank Hiking Club read out a statement that they said was the ‘truth’ of what took place.
Since Nora’s body was found rumours have swirled particularly as she was found naked.
Shirley Yap, 50, read from a prepared statement describing how the group had formed a line either side of trail towards a stream.
She fought back tears when asked to describe finding the body.
‘It is not good. It sad to see a body like that,’ she said.
Describing the lead up to finding the body, Yap said they had spread out either side of a path and followed a trail through an old palm oil plantation.
After searching for 30 minutes they followed the trail downhill towards a stream.
She said: ‘One of our members saw the body lying across the small stream and called out. All of us turned back to where the body was found.
‘We stopped 10m from the body and all knew we should not stop too close to the scene of the body and waited there for the police to arrive.
‘It was hard for the police to find us as the area was quite inaccessible.
The place where Nora was found remained sealed off by police today.
Before Nora’s body was found mother Meabh, who is from Northern Ireland, and Sebastien, who is French, attended Mass at the Catholic church in the city of Seremban, 10 miles from their holiday home.
Father George Harrison, who held the service at the Church of Visitation, said he prayed with the pair and gave them a blessing.
Nora and her family arrived at the sprawling resort (pictured), located 39 miles south of Kuala Lumpur, on August 3 before she went to sleep beside her siblings in an upstairs bedroom
Speaking to the Mirror, Father Harrison said the pair were ‘calm and staying strong’ and that an additional prayer will be said for Nora this Sunday after her body was found. Father Harrison may also bless Nora’s body.
The family had been staying at the Dusun resort which is popular with local tourists and located in an area known as the Pantai hills.
The 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.
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.
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.