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Vacation turns tragic

Felix Chaudhary
Wednesday, December 05, 2012

AN Australian high school student has died on a popular Mamanuca Island resort. Police spokeswoman Ana Naisoro confirmed the death of the 17-year-old who was part of the schoolies group holidaying on Plantation Island Resort.

The teenager, who was part of a group of 523 students partying on the popular island getaway, drowned in the early hours of yesterday morning.

Government has been swift to react with the Ministry of Tourism permanent secretary Elizabeth Powell extending the nation's sympathies to the family of the deceased.

"This is a terrible tragedy and our thoughts and prayers are with the family. The government stands ready to assist the family in whatever way we can," she said.

Plantation Island Resort manager Daven Sharma said he could not comment on the incident as police were currently conducting their investigations into the drowning death.

"However, it is important to note that there were 10 police officers on the island for the duration of the schoolies' event," he said.

Fiji Islands Hotel and Tourism Association president Dixon Seeto said it was an unfortunate incident that should not have happened.

"We sympathise with the parents, family and friends of the deceased. This is a rare occurrence and something that nobody wants to happen especially to someone so young," he said.

Australian media outlets have reported that the deceased has been identified as Harrison Kadell, aged 17, vice captain at St Thomas More College in Sunnybank in Brisbane.

The deceased was partying with friends around the resort pool and was later found dead in the early hours of the morning.

The death of Mr Kadell is the second schoolies tragedy this year. Isabelle Colman also aged 17 fell 26 floors to her death at the Chevron Renaissance apartment tower located at Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast late last month.

Fiji received 1500 school leavers last year, many shunning traditional party grounds on the Gold Coast for resorts in the Mamanuca Group.

In recent times the Australian government has issued warnings about the increasing number of Australian youths getting involved in incidents while holidaying overseas.

Foreign Minister Bob Carr cautioned young Australians to think of their personal safety, alcohol consumption and the laws of the countries they were visiting.