Alana Cutland: Body found in search for British teenager who fell from plane in Madagascar

Cambridge student may have been suffering severe reaction to medication when she jumped from tiny aircraft

Chiara Giordano
Tuesday 06 August 2019 21:39
Alana Cutland, whose family have paid tribute to her after she died while on an internship in Madagascar
Alana Cutland, whose family have paid tribute to her after she died while on an internship in Madagascar

The body of a student who fell from a light aircraft in Madagascar has reportedly been found.

Alana Cutland, 19, is believed to have jumped to her death from the tiny two-door plane as it flew over a jungle on the Indian Ocean island on 25 July.

Local police said the Cambridge student’s body was found by a local tribe after villagers joined the search effort, The Sun reports.

Ms Cutland, who had just started an independent research trip in the country, is said to have been unwell and to have suffered paranoia attacks before the fall.

Her family believe she may have been suffering from a bad reaction to prescription medication.

Detectives are also investigating whether she may have had a severe reaction to anti-malarial drugs.

The plane’s pilot said Ms Cutland had a headache when she boarded and stayed silent during the flight.

Police photographs recreating her final moments appear to show the pilot and a second passenger grasping hold of the victim’s leg as she hangs out of the plane, in a desperate effort to keep her on board.

Ms Cutland reportedly eventually fell to her death after a tense struggle to free herself.

Local police chief Sinola Nomenjahary told The Sun: “The Cessna C168 aircraft was taking off from Anjajavy with three people aboard, including [passenger Ruth] Johnson, Alana and the pilot.

“After 10 minutes of flight, Alana undid her seatbelt and unlocked the right door of the plane and tried to get out.

“Ms Johnson fought for five minutes trying to hold her, but when she was exhausted and out of breath she let go.

“Alana then intentionally fell from an aircraft at 1,130 metres above sea level.”

Police said Ms Cutland was in regular contact with her parents and was making her way home via the island’s main airport.

Family members said the second-year student “grasped every opportunity that was offered to her with enthusiasm and a sense of adventure” and was in Madagascar to complement her studies in natural sciences.

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In a statement released through the Foreign Office, her family paid tribute saying: “Our daughter Alana was a bright, independent young woman, who was loved and admired by all those that knew her.

“Alana grasped every opportunity that was offered to her with enthusiasm and a sense of adventure, always seeking to extend her knowledge and experience in the best ways possible.

“She was particularly excited to be embarking on the next stage of her education, on an internship in Madagascar complementing her studies in natural sciences.

“We are heartbroken at the loss of our wonderful, beautiful daughter, who lit up every room she walked in to, and made people smile just by being there.”

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