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Police in Malaysia admit that novice searchers could have missed clues in hunt for Nora

Meabh Quoirin with police
Meabh Quoirin with police
Nora Quoirin

By Gillian Halliday and Mark Edwards

Malaysian police have admitted that inexperienced searchers may have missed vital clues during the 10-day search for Nora Quoirin, according to reports.

The news came as the Asian country's deputy minister for health said it is up to the teenager's family to decide if a second port-mortem is necessary.

The 15-year-old was found last Tuesday near a waterfall less than two miles from the Dusun eco-resort where she was staying with her mother Meabh - originally from Belfast - and father Sebastien, and young siblings.

Senior police officers involved in the search told The Mail on Sunday that Nora, who is believed to have been alive in the jungle for up to a week, could have been found before her death.

Last week Malaysian authorities ruled out foul play in Nora's death and an autopsy concluded she died of stress and starvation.

"The searchers included people who were inexperienced and got tired quickly in the hot and humid conditions and didn't always walk at arm's-length from each other," an unnamed officer told The Mail on Sunday.

"We can't blame them because it was the first time for many of these searchers working for so many hours in these conditions and water and food supplies were limited. Overall, I think they did a good job despite incredibly arduous conditions."

Another senior officer told the newspaper the area where Nora was found was still being investigated by forensic officers at the weekend to see if there were any signs she was abducted or assaulted before her death. According to the officer, Nora's underwear has not been found.

The officer said: "We have found no evidence to support a criminal element so far and we are continuing to examine the area where she was found for clues. Locals are also being interviewed."

The reports come as it emerged Malaysian police authorities will conduct their own probe into its own search and rescue operation for the teenager.

Police Chief Datuk Mohamad Mat Yusop said the probe will be launched after all investigations are completed, according to local media outlet The Star yesterday.

Meanwhile, Malaysian media outlet New Straits Times quoted the country's deputy health minister Dr Lee Boon Chye saying Nora's parents could have a second post-mortem if they wanted.

"They have the right to do so. They have claimed the body and it's up to them to decide what's next," he said.

"We believe our pathologists ... had done their best. We have strong faith in them."

His comments follow media speculation Nora's parents may request a second post-mortem in the UK or France.

At the weekend Nora's family called for an end to "unhelpful" comments about Nora's death to stop, issuing a statement that only Matthew Searle from the Lucie Blackman Trust was to speak on their behalf.

They expressed concern that continued reporting of other comments might hinder investigations, as well as causing them confusion and distress.

The charity was also making arrangements to repatriate Nora's remains, but would not be releasing specific details at this stage. However, it has been reported that the family claimed Nora's body at Tuanku Ja'afar Hospital in Seremban last Saturday to be transported to Kuala Lumpur Airport for a flight to London.

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