Illegal immigrant vessel carrying 170 including Sri Lankans capsize; another boat with 70 stranded

Wednesday, 24 July 2013 - 12:57


At least one person has died and dozens are missing after a boat carrying asylum seekers heading to Australia sank off the Indonesian island of Java.


Australia's Maritime Safety Authority said a rescue operation was under way.


About 100 people have been pulled from the water, but as many as 170 people were reported to have been on board.


The boat, which was carrying passengers from Sri Lanka and Iran, reportedly started smoking and taking on water shortly after departure from Cidaun village on Java last evening.


Australia has struggled to stem an influx of asylum-seekers arriving by boat, with record numbers turning up in 2012 and more than 15 thousand so far in 2013.


Meanwhile a boat set sail from Mirissa carrying about 70 illegal migrants is reported to be stranded in the sea, 280 nautical miles off the South Eastern coast.


Media spokesman of the Sri Lanka Navy, Commander Kosala Warnakulasuriya said that according to available information, the boat is believed to be developed a mechanical failure, and rescue operators have already been sent towards the marooned boat.


Meanwhile Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said last week that his country would not give asylum to illegal immigrants those who reach Australian by boat.


He said that all such illegal boat people will be returned to Papua New Guinea instead.