President Michael D Higgins has offered his condolences to the Quoirin family after the body of missing teenager Nora was found in Malaysia today.
The 15-year-old’s body was identified by her family, hours after it was discovered following a large-scale search operation.
Nora, who has special needs, disappeared from the jungle resort of Dusun on Sunday August 4, where she had been on holiday with her family.
The Lucie Blackman Trust, which is handling media for the Quoirin family, confirmed “with great sadness that the body found today is that of missing teenager Nora Quoirin. Local police have confirmed identification.”
The trust added that the teenager’s family would not immediately be making any statement, and asked that their privacy be respected “at this awful time”.
President Higgins and his wife Sabina offered their “deepest condolences” to Nora’s parents, to her siblings and to her extended family.
He said: “On behalf of the people of Ireland, I would also like to express my gratitude for the assistance given by the Malaysian authorities in the search for Nora, for the volunteers who answered the call to join the search and for all those throughout Malaysia, Ireland, Britain and France who offered what support they could.
“Our thoughts and prayers are now with Nora’s family, at this most difficult time.”
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that the situation was “every family’s worst nightmare”.
He tweeted: “Our thoughts & sincere condolences are with Nora Quoirin’s parents, siblings & wider family at this unimaginably difficult time. They have experienced every family’s worst nightmare. I’d like to pay tribute to everyone who searched for Nora. May she rest in peace.”
Following news that a body had been discovered, Tánaiste Simon Coveney described it as a “harrowing” time.
He tweeted: “Irish + French embassies in Malaysia working together to provide every assistance to the Quoirin family. Irish embassy is in touch with Malaysian authorities on today’s discovery of a body. At this harrowing time all of our thoughts + prayers are with the family.”
The French Foreign Ministry also expressed its sincere condolences to Nora’s family.
In a statement on Twitter, written in French, Europe and foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and secretary of state for Europe Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne said: “The French authorities are at the disposition of the Malaysian authorities so that light can be shed on the circumstances of her death.”
Earlier national deputy police chief Mazlan Mansor told reporters at a press conference the body had been found beside a small stream about 2.5 kilometres from the resort, by volunteers who were helping the search team.
He said the remains had been winched by helicopter to a hospital mortuary, where her family were due to identify her.
He added that the body “was not in any clothings” and said while it remained a missing persons case police were looking into all possibilities including the “angle of criminal investigation”.
Nora’s mother made a heartfelt appeal on Monday to find her as a €10,000 reward – donated by an anonymous Belfast business – was offered for information leading to her safe return.
The teenager’s parents, Meabh and Sebastien Quoirin, a French-Irish couple who have lived in London for 20 years, had thanked those looking for her as fundraising pages set up by Nora’s aunt and uncle collected more than £100,000 from well-wishers.
Volunteer hikers and even reportedly a shaman were among those taking part in the search for Nora, who was born with the brain defect holoprosencephaly.
The Quoirins had said Nora’s condition meant she was not independent and had difficulty walking.
Search crews looking for Nora had played her mother’s voice in the dense Malaysian forest near where she disappeared.
Mrs Quoirin could be heard saying “Nora, darling, Nora, I love you, Mum is here,” on the recording.
Police had said the teenager, who was travelling on an Irish passport, was believed to have climbed out of her resort room window.
After Nora went missing, her family described how she was particularly vulnerable.
Describing her as a “very special person” they said she would not have gone anywhere alone.
Gardai and UK police were also supporting the Malaysian police with the case.