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Taiwan man on working holiday in Australia dies: foreign ministry

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- A Taiwanese man on a working holiday in Australia was found dead and is believed to have drowned due to storm-related flooding, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday.

MOFA spokesman Steven Hsia said the 26-year-old Taiwanese man, surnamed Pan, originally planned to drive a car to a farm he was working at on Jan. 27. But he never reached the destination.

On Jan. 29, police authorities found Pan's car submerged near Gatton, west of the state capital Brisbane, but no one was in it, Hsia said.

Police yesterday found a body in a river near Gatton. The deceased was later confirmed to be Pan, he added.

Taiwan's representative in Brisbane is working closely with Australian police authorities to help deal with the aftermath of the Taiwanese's death, he added.

Hsia made the comments when asked to confirm foreign media reports yesterday that Australian police had found the dead bodies of two missing men, a Taiwanese and a Malaysian, reportedly in Australia on working holidays.

Pan and a 34-year-old Malaysian farm worker, who were in separate cars, had been traveling from Gatton to Mulgowie to start work at a farm and are believed to have been swept off the road by floodwaters, reports said.

The death of Pan and the Malaysian brought the total death toll of the Queensland floods to six, according to media reports.

The floods across northeast Australia arrived in the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Oswald.

Bundaberg, a coastal town about 360 kilometers northwest of Brisbane, was particularly hard hit, with more than 2,000 homes inundated with water and a similar number of people evacuated, reports said.

A diplomatic source yesterday told Taiwan's Central News Agency that Pan's co-traveler in Australia and Pan's girlfriend called police for help after they learnt that Pan had not reached the farm.

Pan's family in Taiwan also called MOFA's emergency hotline for assistance after they learned the news, the source said.

Pan's parents and cousin are scheduled to fly to Australia later today and MOFA's representatives will receive them to offer all necessary assistance, the source said.

MOFA is advising Taiwanese people to avoid traveling to eastern Australia, which is experiencing serious flooding.

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