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Family's tribute to 'bright, independent' Cambridge student who 'fell out of plane' on Madagascar study trip

Alana Cutland fell from a light aircraft, according to local media. Credit: FCO

A University of Cambridge student who reportedly died after falling from a plane while on an internship in Madagascar, was a “bright, independent young woman” who had a “thirst for discovering more of the world”, her family has said.

Alana Cutland, 19, died when she fell from a light aircraft last Thursday after carrying out research in the remote area of Anjajavy, according to local media.

The second-year student's family said Ms Cutland “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.

Alana Cutland was in Madagascar to complement her studies. Credit: FCO

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

“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.

"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.

"Alana was also a talented dancer and embraced the more creative side of her talents with joy and commitment.

"Her thirst for discovering more of the world always ensured she made the most of every second of her action-packed young life.

"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."

Robinson College said it was shocked by Alana Cutland's death. Credit: PA

Dr David Woodman, of Robinson College where Ms Cutland was studying, said the college was shocked by the news and praised the teenager's "huge contribution" to life at the university.

“She will be sorely missed by us all.

"The college extends its sincerest condolences to Alana’s family at this extremely difficult time,” he said in a statement.

Ms Cutland was involved in the yoga and mindfulness society at the college, according to its website.

The internship is understood to have been undertaken privately and was not a University of Cambridge study trip.