Two British medical students from Newcastle University have been stabbed to death while on work placements at a hospital on the island of Borneo.
Neil Dalton and Aidan Brunger, both 22, were killed after an argument in a bar in the western city of Kuching, where they were due to finish a six-week attachment at a local hospital on Friday.
The attack took place at 4.15am this morning, according to Malaysian state media reports. Police in the western Sarawak province said the row had begun because the students were “being too noisy”, and that four suspects were now in custody.
The Foreign Office said it was aware of the deaths and was providing consular assistance to the men's families.
In a statement, Newcastle University’s acting vice-chancellor Professor Tony Stevenson said Mr Dalton and Mr Brunger had been out in Borneo along with five other students “to put the skills they had learnt during their time here at the university into practice”.
“This has come as a huge shock to us all and our thoughts are with their families and friends at this very difficult time,” Professor Stevenson said.
“Two of our members of staff are flying out to Kuching as soon as possible and we are working closely with the British high commissioner to support the other students and to co-ordinate their return to the UK.”
Writing on the Facebook page for elective medical students at the Sarawak General Hospital in Kuching, lecturer Michael Smile said he and a colleague would be providing counselling to any students “expressing anxiety and concern about [their] safety”.
He said the police investigation suggested this was “not a random crime” and added: “Kuching is a safe city if you avoid certain activities and certain places.”