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4 Vietnamese exchange students disappear in Australia within a month

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Four Vietnamese students participating in an exchange program in South Australia have gone missing within a month, with 17-year-old student Sunnie Nguyen being the latest.

About Nguyen’s disappearance: Described as shy and struggling with English, Nguyen disappeared after dinner with her host family, the Zervaas family, on Jan. 8. She reportedly left with a backpack containing her laptop, essential documents and clothes. Her phone has been turned off, while her social media accounts were deleted. The family reported her missing shortly after at 11:30 pm. Since then, they have not received any calls or messages regarding her whereabouts.

“I have been sitting next to my phone all night anxiously waiting for a call,” Mary Zervaas told the Daily Mail. “We are very worried. Her English isn’t very fluent and she usually relies on someone to translate. She is going to struggle alone. She had five bags here at home, but she only left with one. Her two pairs of shoes are gone, but her wardrobe and dresser still have her clothes in them. She has her important stuff like her laptop and passport, which we think she takes with her usually to use as a form of valid ID, and some clothes. But she left everything else here, including all of her medication – which is quite important.”

Initial investigation: Local authorities, who are working with other states, say no forced entry has been found and that there is no sign of immediate danger. Although they are investigating other international students reported missing between December 2023 and January 2024, they currently do not see a connection between them.

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New theory: With Nguyen’s case gaining more attention, authorities developed a theory suggesting that the teenagers are on the run and are actively avoiding police. They also suspect that they have traveled interstate.

“All lines of inquiries in the investigations indicate that some of these youths may have traveled interstate and still remain there,” South Australia police said in a statement. “There is nothing currently identified in any investigation that would indicate these youths are in immediate danger. South Australia Police are working with interstate policing counterparts to help locate these youths.”

What’s next: Police have reportedly contacted the students’ families in Vietnam, who allegedly expressed no concerns for the teens’ welfare. The cases are being treated separately and authorities encourage anyone with information to contact them.

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