Australian navy rescues sinking boat
July 31, 2012 - 4:26PM
Australian authorities have rescued a sinking boat, more than 300 nautical miles from Ashmore Islands.
Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare said the HMAS Launceston provided assistance to a vessel south-west of Indonesia's Sumba Island overnight.
There were about 65 passengers and four crew on board the boat, which contacted the Australian Maritime Safety Authority to report it was sinking at about 8am yesterday.
Even though the distressed boat was reportedly some 308 nautical miles north west of Ashmore Islands and in the Indonesian search and rescue zone, AMSA said that Australia - not Indonesia - was best placed to help the vessel.
It is understood that all the people on the boat are well and will be transferred to Christmas Island for initial health, security and identity checks.
Customs said the boat was found to be sinking as initially reported but fortunately - given the distance Australian authorities had to travel - it was sinking slowly.
This comes after Australian authorities intercepted two further boats yesterday. A boat carrying 35 people and two crew was intercepted near Christmas Island while another boat carrying 52 people was picked up near Cocos Islands. The relatively straightforward rescue operation also comes after recent boat disasters at sea.
In June some 90 people died when their boat capsized en route to Australia. In another June incident, one person died and three others were unaccounted for when their boat sank in a similar area.
A government-appointed expert panel is currently investigating options to stop asylum seekers coming to Australia by boat, after a parliamentary bid to reintroduce offshore processing failed last month.
The panel - headed up by former Defence chief Angus Houston - is due to report back in August.
According to Customs, 101 boats carrying more than 6900 people have arrived in Australia this year.
Back to sievx.com