Scholarship student dies in Australia, P.M. offers condolences

Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, has offered his condolences to the family of a Samoan scholarship student who died in Australia last Friday.

The Samoa Observer has confirmed that the deceased student is Eteuati Junior Eteuati, of Lotopa, who was studying engineering in Sydney. The cause of death remains unknown. 

Speaking during his weekly programme with 2AP and TV3, Tuilaepa said he was sad to hear the news of the student's passing. He also confirmed that the cause of death is not the coronavirus. Tuilaepa said the Government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Scholarship Unit has been in touch with the family and they are working to bring his body home. 

"In the meantime, I want to extend our condolences to the grieving family," Tuilaepa said.

From the information he has been provided, the Prime Minister said the student might have been homesick as he was extremely close with his parents.

The deceased student was on his first year of his scholarship.

An Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson confirmed the death but would not discuss further details.

"The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade understands that an Australia Awards student has passed away. The welfare of Australia Awards scholars is a top priority, and we are in close contact with Australian institutions to support students in Australia. Owing to our privacy obligations we are unable to provide further comment."

But many have expressed their heartfelt condolences on social media for their fallen brother and friend with most saying Mr. Eteuati was down-to-earth who had a liking for anime [Japanese animation].

The deceased was an old pupil of St. Joseph’s College at Alafua and graduated from the National University of Samoa (N.U.S.) Foundation Programme in 2018, when he was awarded with the Australian Awards Scholarship to pursue undergraduate studies in Australia.

According to the community of Samoan scholarship students in Australia, they have been contacted by student officers offering support following the death. 

Comment has been sought from the Samoa Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The family declined to comment.

*Talaia Mika contributed to this report.

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