Villagers are believed to have found Alana Cutland’s body after she fell from a small aircraft while flying over Madagascar.
Villagers are believed to have found Alana Cutland’s body after she fell from a small aircraft while flying over Madagascar.

Villagers find teen's body in jungle after plane fall

A SEARCH team hunting for the body of Cambridge University student Alana Cutland, who fell from a light aircraft while flying over Madagascar, believe they have found her body.

Army, police and villagers have been looking for the 19-year-old since she fell out of a light aircraft above the Indian Ocean island on July 25.

Local police claim her body was found by a local tribe as part of a huge search effort.

The find comes just days after officials in Madagascar accused British authorities of not funding or offering any help.

Ms Cutland, who had just started an independent research trip in the country, suffered severe paranoia and delusions before the fall on July 25 - possibly caused by anti-malaria medication.

Alana was on a research trip to Madagascar when she fell from a plane. Picture: Press Association
Alana was on a research trip to Madagascar when she fell from a plane. Picture: Press Association

She fell into remote uninhabitable savanna full of swamps, rivers and carnivorous wildlife.

Local villagers helping with the search said they had finally found what they think is Alana's body.

"They have found a human body north of the site where she fell," Police chief Spinola Nomenjanahary confirmed.

BODY FOUND IN JUNGLE

Chief Nomenjanahary said the body was recognised by the "hair, shoes and clothes".

"Villagers wrapped it in a sheet of plastic and have started carrying it back to the village," he said.

"It will be flown by helicopter to the capital tomorrow. The British embassy have already been informed."

Madagascan police have confirmed toxicology tests will be carried out on the body when it returns to the capital. They hope to confirm exactly what medication Alana might have had in her system - including anti-malaria drugs.

Villagers joined the massive search for her remains. Picture: Ian Whittaker — The Sun
Villagers joined the massive search for her remains. Picture: Ian Whittaker — The Sun

Investigators said the student suffered five "paranoia attacks" while on the "failed" research trip that she funded herself.

Alana is understood to have fought off fellow passenger, Brit tourist Ruth Johnson, who had battled for several minutes to try to keep her in the aircraft.

But local police said the 19-year-old managed to free herself from Ms Johnson's "exhausted" grip high above the paradise Indian Ocean island before falling into the wild savanna below.

Rescue teams have been looking for her body across a 40km area for more than a week.

The poverty-stricken villagers had been trekking 25km a day into sweltering jungle in just their bare feet.

The Cessna 182 that tragic student Alana Cutland fell to her death from over Madagascar. Picture: Ian Whittaker — The Sun
The Cessna 182 that tragic student Alana Cutland fell to her death from over Madagascar. Picture: Ian Whittaker — The Sun

They battled swamps, rivers and thick, long grass on the tiresome hunt, with machetes needed to hack their way through uninhabitable terrain hand-to-hand.

They were at risk of malaria-ridden mosquitoes, snakes and carnivorous catlike beasts called fossas.

The vast site where authorities believe Alana might have fallen is a gruelling 16km slog from Anjajavy village. She was found many kilometres north of the area she fell.

'LIMITED RESOURCES'

Madagascan government officials have now expressed frustration at the lack of British offer for help in retrieving the biological sciences student.

A source close to the search told The Sun: "We are trying our best but we are a modest country with limited resources. It's a needle in a haystack.

"We have not heard anything from the British in terms of wanting to help bring Alana back home.

Alana suffered ‘paranoia attacks’ before she fell. Picture: Enterprise News and Pictures
Alana suffered ‘paranoia attacks’ before she fell. Picture: Enterprise News and Pictures

Whether it is money, professional advice or sending people here, there's been no offer."

Pals said Alana began taking anti-malaria drug Doxycycline before travelling.

Her health deteriorated after arriving.

Staff at her hotel said she was "staring into space" in the hours before her fall.

If you or someone you know needs help, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visitlifeline.org.au or call Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467. In an emergency call triple-0.

This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission


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