Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: £10k reward a major boost in Nora search

Searches in the forest in Seremban, Malaysia (FL Wong/AP))
Searches in the forest in Seremban, Malaysia (FL Wong/AP))

Editor's Viewpoint

The family of Nora Quoirin are living through an unimaginable ordeal. What was supposed to be a real holiday adventure in the rainforest of Malaysia has become a 10-day nightmare since they awoke to find her missing from her room.

From the outset they have been convinced that she was abducted. The teenage girl has learning difficulties and her parents, obviously, know her better than anyone and they say it would be totally out of character for her to wander off. She was dressed only in her nightclothes and was barefoot.

Her Belfast-born mum Meabh, in the midst of her agony, has performed heroically in front of the television cameras, making sure to praise the efforts of the local police, search teams and volunteers even if the authorities publicly are treating the case as one of a missing person, although not ruling out a possible crime.

Being so far from home where there are inevitably language and cultural differences - a shaman drafted in by police to help claimed Nora had been lured away from the resort by "a genie" - adds to the family's difficulties, but they have been buoyed by news that an anonymous Belfast business owner has put up a reward of around £10,000 for information leading to finding Nora.

That is a tremendously generous gesture but, as one expert in this field says, it is also a very important one as it will help re-energise and reinvigorate those searching for Nora. It also shows how the family's plight has touched someone living thousands of miles away from where the teenager is missing.

The vulnerability of the young girl adds to the pathos of this story, which is every parent's nightmare. Inevitably the family will be replaying in their minds every moment of their stay in Malaysia from when their plane touched down until discovering Nora was not in her bedroom. It is human nature for them to wonder if they should have done some things differently. That all adds to the pain they must be experiencing.

As the search for Nora continues the fervent hope of all is that the reward offer or some chance breakthrough will result in Nora being returned to her family. Waiting for news and being unsure of what has happened to their much loved and vulnerable daughter is bound to be nearly unbearable. It may be some consolation to Meabh and her family to know that they are in the thoughts of many people here.

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