A postmortem is due to take place on the body of Irish teenager Nóra Quoirin on Wednesday after her remains were discovered in a Malaysian forest on Tuesday.
The 15-year-old’s body was identified by her family hours after it was discovered following a 10-day, large-scale search operation. The postmortem to establish the cause of death will determine whether further police investigation will take place.
The teenager, who had special needs, disappeared from the jungle resort of Dusun, 63km outside the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur, on Sunday August 4th. She was on holiday at the resort with her family.
In an emotional statement, her family said their “hearts are broken” and offered their thanks to those involved in the search.
Describing how the teenager had “truly touched the world”, her family said: “Nóra is at the heart of our family. She is the truest, most precious girl and we love her infinitely.
“The cruelty of her being taken away is unbearable. Our hearts are broken.
“We will always love our Nóra.”
The statement added: “We would like to thank all the people that have been searching for Nóra and trying their best to find her. “We thank the local people here and those far and wide for their prayers and support at this time.
“Nóra has brought people together, especially from France, Ireland, Britain and Malaysia, united in their love and support for her and her family.
“To all our friends and family at home, we can’t thank you enough for all your love.”
Matthew Searle, chief executive of UK charity Lucie Blackman Trust, which has been assisting the Quoirin family, said once the police investigation was complete the family could begin making arrangements to repatriate their daughter’s body. However, he said that if police suspected foul play was involved in Ms Quoirin’s death, the repatriation could be delayed.
Mr Searle said the trust was continuing to provide support and bereavement care to the family. He added that the family was “incredibly grateful” for all the support they had received from around the world.
In a statement, President Michael D Higgins expressed his sympathy to the Quoirin family and thanked the Malaysian authorities and volunteers for their assistance in the search.
“Our thoughts and prayers are now with Nóra’s family, at this most difficult time. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a h-anam,” he said.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar also offered his condolences. He said on Twitter: “They have experienced every family’s worst nightmare. I’d like to pay tribute to everyone who searched for Nóra. May she rest in peace.”
Earlier, deputy inspector-general of police Mazlan Mansor told reporters that shortly before 2pm on Tuesday – 7am Irish time – one of the search-and-rescue teams was informed a body had been found beside a small stream about 2km from the Dusun resort by volunteers who were helping the search team.
He said the remains had been winched by helicopter to a hospital mortuary, where the Quoirin family later identified their daughter.
The body “was not in any clothings”, he said, and, while it remained a missing persons case, police were looking into all possibilities including the “angle of criminal investigation”. He declined to comment on whether the body had any visible injuries and said police needed to await the postmortem before commenting on this.
The teenager’s parents, Meabh and Sebastien Quoirin, an Irish-French couple who have lived in London for 20 years, had earlier thanked those looking for their daughter. Nóra’s mother appealed for help on Monday and the teenager’s family had offered a reward of 50,000 Malaysian ringgit (about €10,600) donated by an anonymous Belfast business – for information leading to her return.
Separately, €125,525 had been raised through two GoFundMe pages set up by the Quoirin and Agnew family following Nóra’s disappearance on August 4th. The funds were initially set up to support family taking part in the search and rescue effort. However, it is understood some of the money may now be used to help repatriate the Irish teenager’s body.