Shipwrecked Afghan prayed for rescue
The West Australian
Updated April 17, 2013, 2:52 am
An Afghan teenager who was on a boat that sank on its way to Christmas Island last week has told how he clung to wreckage for 24 hours until fishermen rescued him.
Mustafa Hamidi told _The West Australian he was one of 14 ethnic Hazaras rescued off Indonesia last Wednesday after their boat carrying 72 asylum seekers broke apart nine hours into the journey.
"That 24 hours that we passed in the ocean was very difficult and tough moments for all of us because we were just close to death," the 14-year-old said. "We had nothing to do except screaming, shouting and praying to God."
Speaking from West Java in Indonesia where he is renting with two older asylum seekers, Mustafa said they had not been able to call for help because their GPS was not working.
He said did not know if they would get on another boat because the tragedy was still raw.
Abdul Aziz, 63, who was on the same boat and a family friend of Mustafa, is still missing, feared dead.
His son Zabihullah Kamal, 25, who lives in Afghanistan, said his father had been trying to get to Australia because he wanted to get their family out of the Pakistani city of Quetta, where there is targeted killings of Hazaras every day.
"I asked him to come back to Afghanistan but he refused because he had lost his two brothers and one sister in Afghanistan," he said.
The boat was one of two which is understood to have sunk last week in the Sunda Strait - the stretch of water between Java and Sumatra.
Australian authorities believe a second boat may have sunk early on Friday.
Both incidents have again exposed glaring shortcomings in Indonesia's search and rescue agency BASARNAS, which did not conduct a search because it said the area was too big and it did not have the co-ordinates.
Tony Kevin, who monitors Australia's response to asylum seeker boat tragedies, said Australian authorities needed to say publicly whether they had co-ordinates of the boat or the boat's latest reported position and whether they passed this information to the Indonesians.
An Australian Maritime Safety Authority spokeswoman said it passed on information about the distressed boat immediately but she refused to say whether it had the Friday boat's co-ordinates.
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