London teen missing in Malaysia isn't independent: parents
SEREMBAN, Malaysia (AP) — The parents of a 15-year-old London girl who mysteriously disappeared from a Malaysian resort a week ago said Saturday that she wasn't independent and had difficulty walking, in new details to support their conviction that she was abducted.
A massive search operation has been underway for Nora Anne Quoirin, who was discovered missing by her family last 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 was 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.
But the parents, Meabh Quoirin, who is Irish, and her French husband, Sebastien, said their daughter was born with holoprosencephaly, a malformation that causes her to have a smaller brain and led to learning and physical disabilities.
"All her life she has spent a lot of time in hospital. When she was born, she needed operations to help her (breathe). She has specialists that monitor her growth, her physical abilities and her strength, and especially her mental capacity," they said in a statement released by the Lucie Blackman Trust, a British charity that supports people involved in crises overseas.
"She is not like other teenagers. She is not independent and does not go anywhere alone," they said. "Nora likes to walk with her family, but her balance is limited and she struggles with coordination. She has been to Asia, and many European countries before, and has never wandered off or got lost."
Other challenges she faces include having limited verbal communication, not being able to write more than a few words, an inability to grasp anything conceptual such as mathematics or managing money, and an inability to make or receive phone calls independently, the parents said. Nora can wash and dress herself but she cannot manage buttons and struggles to wash her hair, they said.
The parents described their daughter as a "fun, funny and extremely loving" girl who is also sensitive, shy and anxious outside the family. "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, colorful T-shirts," they said. "Every night, her special time is for cuddles and a nighttime story with her Mum. And she was extremely excited about the family holiday in Malaysia."
Quoirin's family, which has lived in London for 20 years, arrived last 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.
In a video provided by police Saturday, the girl's mother gave a short speech thanking all those involved in the search especially ahead of a religious Muslim festival Sunday. "We are so grateful for everything you are doing for us," an emotional Meabh Quoirin told rescuers in the jungle. "We are so impressed with your effort, your expertise, your dedication. We hope you find Nora."
Negeri Sembilan police chief Mohamad Mat Yusop said the search will go on despite the national holiday Sunday. "We are very worried about her welfare. We don't know how long she can survive," he said.
More than 260 people have taken part in the operation, which has included aerial searches, thermal detectors, sniffer dogs, indigenous trackers and elite commando forces. Rescuers on Friday began playing voice recordings of the mother to try and draw the girl out as they combed the hilly forest terrain.
Investigators have questioned 20 people and said a forensic team was analyzing fingerprints found in the cottage where the girl went missing. Posters of the girl have also been circulated in the district.
Associated Press writer Eileen Ng in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, contributed to this report.