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China: Around The Nation

Chinese teenager found dead at US youth camp, a day after going missing

Body of tourist pulled out of nearby lake in Washington state, county sheriff says

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 July, 2017, 3:14pm
UPDATED : Friday, 28 July, 2017, 3:20pm

An 18-year-old Chinese tourist has been found dead in Washington state after he went missing from a youth camp.

Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo told The Bellingham Herald that the body of Bin Wang had been found by a dive team in Lake Whatcom on Wednesday, about 24 hours after he was reported missing from Camp Firwood.

Elfo said Wang’s shirt and shoes were found near the water, and that Wang did not know how to swim.

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Wang, believed to be a high school student in China, was travelling with a tour group from Seattle, Tom Beaumont, executive director at The Firs, which runs Camp Firwood, told the newspaper. He was attending the Christian summer camp as part of a longer US trip, Beaumont said.

Wang’s parents had been notified, Beaumont told the newspaper. He said the teenager had been participating in a group game that included water sports late on Tuesday afternoon before he went missing.

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He was last seen at about 4.30pm at the top of a steep trail leading to the water, police said. Camp staff began searching for him when he was first reported missing, and police were called at about 7.20pm. Firefighters were asked to assist with a rescue boat just after 8pm, Elfo said.

“We did some surface work and we continued until it was too dark [on Tuesday night],” Assistant Chief Rod Topel of the South Whatcom Fire Authority told the newspaper.

A dive team also joined the search while other rescuers scoured the campground on foot with dogs, Topel said.

The Chinese foreign ministry in Beijing and the consulate in San Francisco, which serves Washington state, could not be reached for comment.

Beaumont told the newspaper it was the first death at the youth camp since it opened in 1955. It is situated a short distance from the shore of Lake Whatcom. Some 260 visitors were enrolled at the camp this week, he said.

Overseas camps are a popular summer activity for students in China, where parents consider them a good opportunity to improve their children’s English skills.

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The United States, Britain and Australia are among the most popular destinations, according to a report in May by educational services provider New Oriental.