12/01/2012 06:14 EST | Updated 12/01/2012 09:27 EST

Susan Wells Dies In Tanzania: Ontario Woman Dead Of 'Unknown Circumstances' While Volunteering In East Africa

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Some members of the Usa River village, near Arusha, Tanzania sit patiently on rocks near a Tanzanian flag as they wait for the arrival of Princess Astrid of Belgium 03 October 2007. The Princess, who was visiting the Arusha as a special representative for a campaign against Malaria and visited some houses in the region, never made it to there gathering. Malaria, according the UN kills approximately 3,000 children a day worldwide and remains the single largest cause of death for children under five in sub-Saharan Africa. AFP PHOTO/Roberto SCHMIDT (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)

COLLINGWOOD, Ont. -- An Ontario woman has died in unknown circumstances while volunteering to help children in the east African country of Tanzania.

Family friend Rev. Brian Goodings of Trinity United Church says Foreign Affairs has confirmed that Collingwood resident Susan Wells, 41, died on Wednesday.

He says Wells left the town, about 120 kilometres northwest of Toronto, for Tanzania last weekend on a month-long trip, carrying suitcases stuffed full of educational materials for children.

Goodings says Foreign Affairs has told Wells' family that an autopsy has been performed in Tanzania as authorities there try to discover cause of death.

He says the department has informed the family her death was not due to misadventure.

Goodings says Wells was an experienced traveller who had gone on numerous trips abroad to help out charities, including five previous voyages to Tanzania.

He said Wells' family are devastated.

"They're just shocked. Shocked. It's been really horrible," Goodings said.

Foreign Affairs spokesman Ian Trites said in an email that a Canadian has died in Tanzania and that consulate officials in the city of Dar es Salaam are working with local authorities to gather more information.

The department advises travellers to exercise a "high degree of caution" while visiting Tanzania.

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