‘She is not like other teens’... mum tells of missing Nora’s long history of health battles
The distraught family of Nora Quoirin described the missing teenager as “a special person” who is “fun, funny and extremely loving” as the frantic search for her continued.
Nora (15), whose mother is from Belfast, vanished from a Malaysian nature reserve shortly after arriving at the remote holiday resort near Seremban, about 39 miles south of Kuala Lumpur.
The vulnerable London teenager’s parents said she was gone when they woke up last Sunday morning.
A widespread search continues involving hundreds of people equipped with drones and helicopters with thermal imaging cameras, and an elite unit of the Malaysian police has now been deployed to help in the hunt.
In a moving statement, her increasingly worried parents Meabh and Sebastian, who is French, said that Nora’s “family is her whole world” and they stressed that “she is not independent and does not go anywhere alone”.
They also said that their eldest child — who especially loves “cuddles and a night-time story” — has previously travelled around the world without ever “wandering off or getting lost”.
“Nora is a very special person. She is fun, funny, and extremely loving,” the statement read.
“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. She is not independent and does not go anywhere alone.”
Her family also revealed how the young girl, who needed surgery when she was born, spent time in hospital and continues to attend specialist consultations.
“Nora was born with Holoprosencephaly; this means she has a smaller brain,” they said.
“All her life she has spent a lot of time in hospital. 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.”
Although local police are treating Nora’s disappearance as a missing person’s case, her parents have consistently claimed she may have been abducted.
A window in the holiday cottage where the family were staying was found to be open when her father discovered she was gone and raised the alarm.
In the statement the Quoirins said Nora “has always needed dedicated specialist educational provision” and they said she “attends a school for children and young people with learning and communication difficulties”.
“Nora and her family are bilingual and bi-cultural,” it said.
“Nora is very proud that she can speak French as well as English. But her verbal communication is limited. Nora 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.
“She can wash and dress herself, though she cannot manage buttons, and struggles to wash her hair.”
The family also revealed how the schoolgirl likes embracing new challenges. “At school, she is learning to ride a bicycle properly. Nora likes to walk with her family, but her balance is limited and she struggles with coordination.”
Her parents described Nora as “very sensitive”, adding that outside of the family she is “very shy and can be quite anxious”. They stressed that “she has been to Asia, and many European countries before, and has never wandered off or got lost”.
They added: “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.”
Yesterday, popular Malaysian actress Fasha Sandha shared a picture of the teenager on her Instagram account, asking the public to help find her.
The search entered its sixth day yesterday and, at a morning Press briefing, Police Chief Mohamad Mat Yusop said teams have combed a 6km-square area around the resort but found nothing. He said officers are now investigating buildings and chalets in the resort and checking phone and email records.
The revelations came amid a dispute between fire and police officials over whether footprints found in the jungle are Nora’s. Ahmad Mukhlis Mokhtar of the Fire and Rescue Department earlier said “our detective canines had spotted footprints” which he believed to belong to Nora.
However, police denied the footprint finding at a Press conference yesterday afternoon, leaving the search in confusion amid growing fears that it will be hampered by bad weather.
Questions were also raised about whether Nora wandered away from the resort through a huge gap in a fence.
Last night the Garda said they have deployed a Garda Liaison Officer (GLO) to Malaysia to assist the Department of Foreign Affairs, which is currently providing consular assistance to the family.
A spokesman said the Garda Liasion Officer will liaise as required with the Malaysian police and UK and French authorities to assist in the search.
Yesterday there was heartbreaking new footage of the moment police broadcast her mother’s voice into the forest in the hope of coaxing her out from a possible hiding place.
“Nora darling, Nora I love you, Mum is here,” Meabh Quoirin’s voice called out in a loudspeaker message.
Nora’s photograph has been distributed at roadblocks in the area and native forest trackers are calling out her name as they search the dense forest.
A Belfast GoFundMe drive has reached £74,000 in addition to €9,000 (£8,360) raised in France.
Organisers say that all donations from both campaigns will be donated to Nora’s family.
To donate, see www.gofundme.com/f/wt9zdm-find-nora-quoirin