WASHINGTON — Police are searching for six teens who were visiting Washington for an international robotics competition and have been reported missing.
The teens represented Burundi, a small country in East Africa, in the inaugural FIRST Global robotics competition, competing alongside teams from more than 150 other countries.
The teens have been missing since Tuesday evening, when they were last reported seen at the location of the event — DAR Constitution Hall on 18th St between C Street and D Street in Northwest DC — the Metropolitan Police Department said.
“On the night of July 18, FIRST Global learned the adult mentor of Team Burundi was unable to find the group of six students of the team who participated in the 2017 FIRST Global Challenge,” the competition’s organizers said in a statement.
The mentor is identified in police reports as Canesius Bindaba. Bindaba stated that “he does not know where (they) could have went,” the police reports said.
The DC police department tweeted names, ages, descriptions and photos of the six missing individuals. There are four missing boys and two missing girls, ranging in age from 16 to 18, according to the tweets.
The teens were reportedly last seen at 5:00 p.m. ET, police said. An itinerary of the event says that the robotics competition was scheduled to end at 5:30 p.m., and closing ceremonies were to run from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
FIRST Global President Joe Sestak called the police to report the students as missing, according to the organization’s statement, and “proper follow on reports have been submitted to the police who are investigating the case.
“Security of the students is of paramount importance to FIRST Global. FIRST Global ensures that all students get to their dormitories after the daily competition by providing safe transportation to the students staying at Trinity Washington University who are always to be under close supervision of their adult mentor and are advised not to leave the premises unaccompanied by the mentor.”
Anyone with information is urged to contact authorities at 202-727-9099.
The competition attracted significant national attention after six girls on the Afghan team were denied visas for the competition, but later allowed to travel when President Donald Trump intervened. Ivanka Trump attended the event Tuesday, meeting with the Afghan girls.