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U Of I Student Missing Off Coast Of Brazil

This story was revised on 6/26/14 to include additional details from The Associated Press.

The University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) says one of its students is missing and feared drowned off the coast of Brazil, where he was taking part in a study-abroad program.

20-year-old Crop Sciences major Richard Fu of Taiwan was reported missing on Saturday, after going swimming with two other students at Arraial do Cabo, east of Rio de Janeiro . One of the other students was also from the U of I, while the 2nd was from Purdue. The Associated Press reports that Fu disappeared in rough waters of the coast of a beach in Rio de Janeiro state.  One of the other students swam back to shore, while the 2nd was rescued by lifeguards.

University spokesperson Robin Kaler tells The Associated Press that Fu's family has been flown to Brazil. College of ACES Dean Robert Hauser wrote in an email to the college that the university was also working to provide support to other students on the trip.

Fu’s disappearance happened two days before the death of another U of I student who traveled to Brazil. Education graduate student Ashley Walls of Chicago died Monday in Florianopolis in southeast Brazil, from an illness mostly likely caught while traveling in that country on a research trip last week. University spokesperson Robin Kaler told The Associated Press privacy laws prevent her from identifying the illness.

Hauser related a statement from U of I Urbana campus Chancellor Phyllis Wise and Provost Ilesanmi Adesida: "We are all saddened by the news of what has happened to two of our students in the past few days. Our focus right now is working with our partners and government contacts in Brazil to help their families navigate this difficult time. both of these students were admired and respected by their peers and by the faculty and staff who knew them here at Illinois. Our collective thoughts are with their families and friends."

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