2 students in Cambodia for volunteer work die

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2 students in Cambodia for volunteer work die

Two medical engineering students from Konyang University participating in a volunteer program in Cambodia during their winter vacation died after complaining of a stomachache.

The problem started on Tuesday morning, when the two female students started to suffer from symptoms such as stomachaches, dehydration, diarrhea and nausea.

They were immediately taken to a hospital in Phonm Penh for treatment, but one died while on the way to the hospital at 2:10 p.m. Wednesday.

The other student died at around 3:00 a.m. Thursday while receiving treatment in the hospital. The cause of death is still unknown.

According to the Korean Embassy in Cambodia and Konyang University, the 16 college students, along with two professors and one staff member from Konyang University, left for Cambodia’s capital of Phnom Penh on Jan. 6 for the volunteer program.

The students, along with 10 other students from the Royal University of Phnom Penh, planned to help local residents make equipment needed for daily life, such as a canopy shades and chicken coops.

“It seems as though the faculty members didn’t think the symptoms were serious at first,” said one employee of the Korean embassy.

“They thought it was just stomachache and diarrhea. This is the fourth time they’ve accompanied students on their overseas volunteer program, and it has happened before, and the students got better after getting treatment. It had never occurred to them that the results would be so tragic.”

The two students, who were roommates, have reportedly ate nothing for dinner except for the pizza and beer they had in a restaurant near their hotel along with two other students. The other two were reported to be fine.

University officials said Lee Won-Mook, the president of Konyang University, held an immediate meeting after the students’ deaths.

They have also sent the dean of medical engineering along with the student’s families to Cambodia on Thursday.

The university president left for Cambodia on Thursday night along with an infectious disease expert, who will examine the deceased students and the other students on the trip.

The university reported that they would send the students back to Korea starting on Friday and will conduct an epidemiological survey as well as offer psychotherapy.

Konyang University is also considering ending their volunteer program in Cambodia.

The university offered condolences to the families of the deceased on Friday, and said “it is a tragedy for a student who left for a volunteer program to meet such a sudden death.”

BY LEE HAE-SUN [lee.haesun@joongang.co.kr]
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