Missing: Minh Nguyen.
A 14-year-old exchange student who is missing in Melbourne was gone for nearly two weeks before police were finally notified about his disappearance.
Minh Nguyen, who had been staying with a host family in the city’s eastern suburbs, was last seen around the end of March, though he wasn’t reported missing until Wednesday.
The teenager had told his host family on Friday, March 28, that he was going to visit a cousin in Sunshine for the weekend.
He left the Rowville home on Ling Drive with a bag containing a shirt, pants and shoes, but failed to return on March 30 as expected.
Since then, his phone has been switched off and no one has been able to contact him or his cousin.
It’s not known if he has access to any money.
The boy’s school, Nazareth College in Noble Park, filed a missing persons report on Wednesday, prompting police to issue a public plea for help within hours.
Nazareth College deputy principal Garry Giese said Minh appeared to be settling in well at school and had made friends.
‘‘He seemed to be a reasonably popular kid,’’ he said.
Nazareth College has about 20 international students. Mr Giese said the school had ‘‘no indication that there was anything amiss’’ with Minh.
Senior Sergeant Alan Dew says the boy’s parents have been told about what’s happened.
But he described the police search as more of a welfare check than one with grave fears for the boy’s safety.
‘‘We’re just really concerned because he’s a 14-year-old boy who hasn’t had much experience in Melbourne,’’ he told Fairfax Media.
‘‘We just really need him, or someone who knows where he is, to contact us so we know that he’s safe.’’
Senior Sergeant Dew said he couldn’t comment on protocols in place at the company that arranged the boy’s exchange from Vietnam when faced with cases of missing children.
A phone call to the Melbourne office of the exchange program was referred to a business manager, who was not available to comment.
The boy had lived with a different host family in Carlton for the first six months of his time in Australia while he studied at an English language school.
Police have tracked down that family, but they haven’t had any contact with the boy.
There’s also no confirmation as to who the boy’s cousin is or the exact address where this relative lives.
‘‘There’s a number of different layers here,’’ Senior Sergeant Dew said. ‘‘It’s not a typical missing persons case. I guess there’s a bit of extra complication with it.’’
Anyone who sees the boy is asked to call triple-0.
With Benjamin Preiss