On the morning of the 4 August, the Irish-Franco Quoirin family reported young Nora missing to the local authorities, and within hours, a search was up and running to find her. The family detailed that Nora was born with a brain disorder, holoprosencephaly, and was ‘not independent and does not go anywhere alone’.
On Monday 12 August, eight days into the search, Nora’s parents Meabh and Sebastien put up a 50,000 Malaysian ringgit (£10,000) reward for anyone who had any information on her disappearance.
After a 10-day search, which consisted of firefighters, police officers (including those from Ireland, England and France), drones, a helicopter search and rescue (SAR) team, members of the native Orang Asli community, sniffer dogs and volunteers, a naked body was found in a ‘quite hilly’ area of plantation by members of the Seremban hikers club – volunteer searchers who were hiking in the area.
The body was taken to a mortuary and later identified as Nora Quoirin. At a news conference, Deputy Inspector-General of Police Mazlan Mansor detailed that Nora's body was found beside a small stream about 2.5 km from the Dusun resort. It’s been reported that the area where the body was found had previously been searched by a rescue team, and was described by the police chief as ‘not an accessible place’.
Nora’s family believe that she may have been abducted. Malaysian authorities noted that a criminal investigation was still ongoing alongside a missing persons inquiry.
Matthew Searle, of the Lucie Blackman Trust, spokesman for the family said that Meabh and Sebastien still have ‘a large amount of questions’. He added: “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?”
In a recent statement, France's Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs said that French police remain ‘at the disposal of the Malaysian authorities so that light can be shed on the circumstances of her death’.
This tragic case may well call into question the effectiveness of local SAR operations when cases of international missing persons arise – that a group of volunteer hikers found Nora’s body in an area that was reportedly previously ‘combed’ by multi-national authorities is disheartening to say the least. This latest incident could also put a spotlight on travel insurance coverage for SAR in the event of a disappearance.
An investigation into Nora Quoirin’s death is currently still ongoing. A statement from the Lucie Blackman Trust noted that the family’s wishes not to be approached at this difficult time should be respected.