Cambridge student who died in Madagascar ‘opened plane door’

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

A Cambridge University student fell to her death in Madagascar after opening the door of a small plane in mid-air, police have said.

Alana Cutland, 19, from Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire, died in July, the Foreign Office confirmed.

Police on the African island said it was not yet clear why she opened the door of the light aircraft.

One theory being investigated is that she may have suffered a severe reaction to anti-malaria drugs.

Her family said they were heartbroken at the death of “a bright, independent young woman”.

Jafisambatra Ravoavy, a police colonel, confirmed to the BBC that Ms Cutland had opened the door of the small plane soon after it took off from a remote airstrip in northern Madagascar.

She was studying natural sciences at Robinson College, and was on an internship on the island.

Her cause of death has not been confirmed by UK authorities.

Police are using a helicopter and ground teams to search for her body.

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

In a statement, her family said she was a talented dancer with a sense of adventure “who lit up every room she walked in to, and made people smile just by being there”.

They added: “She was always so kind and supportive to her family and friends, which resulted in her having a very special connection with a wide network of people from all walks of her life, who we know will miss her dearly.”

Madagascar is an island off the south-east coast of Africa, famed for its unique wildlife.

Dr David Woodman, from Robinson College, said they were “deeply shocked by the news of Alana’s death”, and sent condolences to her family.

He added: “In her two years here, she made a huge contribution to many different aspects of life in the college – she will be sorely missed by us all.”

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