Beds, Herts & Bucks

Cambridge student 'disappointed' before Madagascar plane fall

Alana Cutland Image copyright Cutland family
Image caption Alana Cutland was studying natural sciences at Robinson College in Cambridge

A Cambridge University student who fell from a light aircraft in Madagascar had expressed her "anguish" about her research project to her parents, police have said.

Alana Cutland, 19, from Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire, died on 25 July but her body has still not been found.

Colonel D'y La Paix Ralaivaonary said she was frustrated and "disappointed" with her research project.

A cow is being sacrificed by villagers to bring luck to the searchers.

This was in keeping with local tradition and the search was focusing on two regions south of the runway, the colonel said.

Ms Cutland was studying natural sciences at Robinson College and was on an internship on the African island at the time of her death.

Col D'y La Paix Ralaivaonary said within days of arriving she had seemed to conclude that her research project would not be a success.

He said Ms Cutland had contacted her supervisor on her second day in Madagascar and at least twice more after that.

She was in constant contact with her parents and expressed her "anguish" and "disappointment" in messages to them, the colonel added.

Image copyright Cutland family
Image caption Alana Cutland was on an internship in Madagascar when she died

Colonel D'y La Paix Ralaivaonary said Ms Cutland had said the same to Ruth Johnson, a British woman who accompanied her on the flight and tried to hold on to her to prevent her falling to her death.

The reason why Ms Cutland opened the plane's door is not known, but last week police said: "It is confirmed that she opened the door and jumped."

They also ruled out a possible adverse reaction to anti-malaria medication she was taking, but have now said the theory is "still on the table".

The cause of Ms Cutland's death has not been confirmed by UK authorities.

In a statement released last week by the Foreign Office, her family said they were heartbroken at the death of "a bright, independent young woman".

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