Mother's voice pierces Malaysia jungle in search for girl
SEREMBAN, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysian rescuers stepped up their search Friday for a 15-year-old London girl who vanished from a nature resort six days ago by playing voice recordings of her mother and brought in members of an elite commando force as they combed the hilly forest terrain.
"Nora darling, Nora, Nora, Mummy's here," the voice of Meabh Quoirin rang out through loudspeakers carried by rescuers, piercing the jungle silence. The family of Nora Anne Quoirin discovered her missing Sunday morning from the Dusun eco-resort in southern Negeri Sembilan state.
Police believe the teen climbed out through a window in the living room that was left open and is still in the vicinity of the resort. They are treating her as a missing person but do not rule out a possible criminal element in her disappearance.
Her family however, said Quoirin, who has learning and developmental disabilities, wouldn't have wandered off on her own and has been abducted. More than 260 people are involved in the search operation that also includes aerial searches, drones, sniffer dogs and indigenous trackers. Investigators have questioned 20 people and said a forensic team was analyzing fingerprints found in the cottage where the girl went missing.
Negeri Sembilan deputy police chief Che Zakaria Othman said two dozen members of a special police commando unit were brought in Friday to bolster the search. Rescuers are also using thermal detectors, and posters of the girl have been circulated in the district, he said.
Zakaria said investigators didn't find any footprints of the girl. He said the aluminum window that was found open could possibly have been opened from the outside if it wasn't locked. Local media showed pictures of the two-panel rectangular push window at the resort, with one panel left open.
Quoirin's parents are an Irish-French couple and have lived in London for about 20 years, according to the Lucie Blackman Trust, a British charity that supports people involved in crises overseas. Quoirin arrived with her family on Saturday for a two-week stay at the Dusun, a small resort located in a durian orchard next to a forest reserve 63 kilometers (39 miles) south of Kuala Lumpur.
Zakaria said Meabh flew in to Malaysia from Singapore, while her husband and children arrived from London the same day. The family has launched crowdfunding efforts to enable more relatives to travel to Malaysia to join the search.
In an appeal on GoFundMe.com, the family said Nora's disabilities made her especially vulnerable and they fear for her safety. "Nóra would not know how to get help and would never leave her family voluntarily," the statement said. "More family members are traveling to Malaysia to participate in the search and rescue effort and would appreciate donations to cover any unforeseen expenses or charges incurred in the process."
Irish pop group Westlife, which is performing in Malaysia, made a public plea to find Quoirin. "We call on everyone in this country to help extend a helping hand by providing the latest information ... with regards to Nora's disappearance," singer Nicky Byrne was quoted by the Malay-language Utusan Malaysia newspaper as saying during a concert Thursday night.
Local villagers and police sought divine intervention during Muslim Friday prayers. "After we have conducted our Friday prayers, we conducted a special prayer. We are asking Allah to help us in finding this missing person Nora Anne Quoirin," Zakaria said.
Associated Press writer Eileen Ng in Kuala Lumpur contributed to this report.