SYDNEY Aug 30 Survivors from a suspected asylum
seeker boat carrying about 150 people that appears to have sunk
have been spotted in Indonesian waters, Australian maritime
officials said on Thursday.
Australian and Indonesian search and rescue teams are
heading to the area, around 8 nautical miles southwest of Java,
the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said in a
A person on board the unidentified boat had contacted
Australian rescue authorities by telephone on Wednesday, saying
the vessel had engine trouble and needed assistance.
A search by Indonesian authorities failed to locate the
boat, but a merchant vessel early on Thursday reported it had
seen people in the water and was attempting to recover
survivors, AMSA said.
Indonesian and Australian search-and-rescue vessels and
other merchant vessels were now heading to the area to assist,
Refugees seeking asylum in Australia often set sail from
Indonesia heading for Australia's Indian Ocean territory of
Christmas Island in dangerous and overcrowded boats, with the
help of people smugglers.
Refugee policy and border protection are hot-button issues
in Australia, despite the fact the country only receives a small
number of the world's asylum seekers each year.
The U.N. refugee agency said Australia received 11,800 claims
for asylum in 2011, compared with 441,000 claims globally, with
327,000 of those claims in Europe.
Australia is working on plans to reopen refugee detention
centres in the Pacific islands nations of Nauru and Papua New
Guinea to deter refugee boats from reaching Australia and
(Reporting by Lincoln Feast; Editing by John Mair)