Divers at the lake on Fraser Island after the drownings. Picture: Nine News Queensland
Divers at the lake on Fraser Island after the drownings. Picture: Nine News Queensland

Drowned students had vanished from public tour

TWO Japanese schoolboys who drowned at Fraser Island's Lake McKenzie were part of a 31-person public tour and were noticed missing during a bus head count.

The 16-year-olds, described as bright and energetic by their school principal, drowned after they were separated from their tour group on Friday.

Their parents are believed to be travelling to Queensland.

Questions are now being asked about how the boys drowned in what has been described as "a calm lake in the middle of an island" by the local mayor.

 

 

Lake Mackenzie on Fraser Island.
Lake Mackenzie on Fraser Island.

 

The teenagers were among students and staff from Japan's Kanagawa University High School, on a sightseeing tour with other tourists.

Police were informed the teens were missing about 5pm Friday. Their bodies were found on Saturday morning.

The teenagers, on an exchange program in Australia, were on a day tour run by Sealink Travel Group. Chief executive officer Jeff Ellison said the tour visited a number of locations on Fraser Island, including Lake McKenzie.

He said before guests left the bus they were briefed by a tour guide and given free time at the lake.

 

Lake McKenzie on Fraser Island. Picture: File photo/Kingfisher Bay Resort
Lake McKenzie on Fraser Island. Picture: File photo/Kingfisher Bay Resort

 

"My understanding is that at the end of that time, 5pm, they were due back on the bus. They were two short and the tour guide identified it was two from this group," he said.

Mr Ellison said the guide immediately searched the area including the toilets. A wider search was launched and police were called.

The rest of the students on the tour stayed at the site while buses were sent to bring back the other passengers.

 

Lake Mackenzie, Fraser Island.
Lake Mackenzie, Fraser Island.

 

"We've looked at our protocol and we're very comfortable with that … but it does seem a terrible, unfortunate accident," Mr Ellison said.

He said it appeared to be a "terrible, unfortunate accident" and the company was assisting the police investigation while also conducting its own.

The tour group left the island on Saturday afternoon to return to Brisbane.

Principal Kikuchi Hisashi said the school would be reviewing its exchange program.

Inspector Tony Clowes said he did not know if the boys could swim and that their deaths were tragic.

"Know your abilities, be aware that if you are entering water there is some inherent risk entering waterways in this country," he said on Saturday.

Police said a report would be prepared for the coroner.

Inspector Clowes said the details surrounding how the children were supervised would be investigated.