Malaysia uses helicopter, dogs in search for U.K. teen who disappeared from resort
This undated photo taken from the Facebook page of The Lucie Blackman Trust shows Nora Quoirin. (The Lucie Blackman Trust/Family via AP)
Syawalludin Zain, The Associated Press
Published Tuesday, August 6, 2019 5:51AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, August 6, 2019 7:11AM EDT
SEREMBAN, Malaysia -- Police used a helicopter and sniffer dogs Tuesday in an expanded search for a 15-year-old London girl who disappeared from a Malaysian resort over the weekend, with the girl's family saying they believe she was abducted and police saying there was no indication that had happened.
Nora Anne Quoirin's family says they discovered her missing from her bedroom at the Dusun eco-resort in southern Negeri Sembilan state Sunday morning with the window left open, and considered it a criminal matter. Police have said there were no initial signs of foul play.
Negeri Sembilan police chief Mohamad Mat Yusop said the girl's disappearance was still being treated as a missing person case because there was no evidence to indicate she was abducted. He said sniffer dogs picked up the girl's scent within 100 metres from her resort bedroom but the trail stopped there.
The family said in a statement Tuesday that they did not believe she just wandered off on her own.
"Nora's family believe she has been abducted," the statement said. "We are especially worried because Nora has learning and developmental disabilities, and is not like other 15-year-olds. She looks younger, she is not capable of taking care of herself, and she won't understand what is going on."
"She never goes anywhere by herself. We have no reason to believe she wandered off and is lost," the family said.
Mohamad said the girl's mother had reported that she was only in her undergarments when they put her to bed but it was unclear if she was dressed when she disappeared because nobody saw her leave.
"We have no clues, no evidence to say this case is abduction," the police chief said at a news conference. "We will do our very best. We will not give up hope. We believe that she didn't go far and that she had lost her way."
Quoirin's parents are an Irish-French couple who have lived in London for about 20 years, according to the Lucie Blackman Trust, a British charity that supports people involved in a crisis 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 about 63 kilometres (39 miles) south of Kuala Lumpur.
Mohamad said rescuers earlier Tuesday repeated their search around the perimeter of the resort because they believed she was within the vicinity.
He said they would now focus on the foothill of the resort near a river, based on the assumption that she would be in a weak state and could head downhill to find water and food.
More than 170 people were involved in the search operation, with a helicopter, sniffer dogs and local villagers aiding in the expanded comb through the dense jungle, Mohamad said, adding that the search would continue through the night.
Haanim Bamadhaj, a resort spokesman, said the Dusun management is baffled by Quoirin's disappearance. Resort staff and even some guests had earlier joined in the search, she said.
"Our resort has been operating for 10 years and we have never even been robbed. We are doing our very best and praying hard," she said.
Following Quoirin's disappearance, she said some guests had cancelled their bookings and that the resort had provided full refunds. Access to the resort has been blocked due to the search operation.
Villagers who joined in the search expressed concern over Quoirin's fate.
"This particular jungle, for outsiders, they don't know how to navigate, they get lost. Natives like me, we are used to this jungle," said Bali anak Akau.
Associated Press writer Eileen Ng in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, contributed to this report.