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Boys who died on island were in Australia on exchange

SUNDAY: The Sunday Mail understands the boys attended Kanagawa University High School in Japan and were on exchange in Australia.

Their parents in Japan were informed of the boys' deaths on Saturday.

The school has an exchange program with Caloundra City Private School, on the Sunshine Coast.

The boys were known to each other, but were not relatives, police said.

SATURDAY: Two Japanese teenagers who drowned at Lake Mackenzie on Fraser Island were part of a school group that was visiting the tourism hotspot.

Inspector Anthony Clowes from Maryborough Patrol Group said the 16-year-old boys had been reported missing by their tour group in the vicinity of Lake Mackenzie just after 5pm on Friday.

An extensive search and rescue operation was carried out by Fraser Island police and a rescue helicopter.

The State Emergency Service, the police dog squad and water police had also joined the search, Insp Clowes said.

About 8.20am on Saturday the bodies of the two boys were found in the water at Lake Mackenzie.

At this stage it is not known how big the tour group was or how long it had taken to notice the boys were missing.

The families of both boys have been notified of their deaths.

Insp Clowes said at this stage the drownings were not believed to be suspicious.

He said he did not know how long the students had been on the island prior to the tragedy or whether the other members of the school group remained on the island.

Insp Clowes said the police were working closely with the Japanese Consulate in the wake of the boys' deaths.

He said it was a reminder for anyone entering a waterway to know their abilities.

"This is a tragic event, there is no doubt about that," Insp Clowes said.

"Certainly it would be confronting for all the persons involved including emergency services who responded."

 A full report is being prepared for the coroner. 

On Saturday, Fraser Coast Mayor George Seymour said the loss of the schoolboys was a devastating tragedy for the Fraser Coast community.

"We regularly welcome school groups from Japan and elsewhere who attend Fraser Coast schools and visit attractions around the region, which almost always includes Fraser Island," he said.

"The council has offered its assistance to the police.

"We can only imagine how difficult this time is for the visiting students.

"Our thoughts are with them and the families of these two young men back in Japan."