Asylum seeker boat capsizes north of Christmas Island

June 21, 2012

Map of approximate location of a capsized boat

Photo: The boat capsized about 120 nautical miles north of Christmas Island. (Google Maps)

A BOAT carrying up to 200 asylum seekers has capsized north of Christmas Island this afternoon.

Australian searchers have seen survivors in the water with merchant ships  racing to the scene of the disaster 120 nautical miles north of Christmas  Island.

The asylum seekers on the boat, which remains largely intact, are understood  to be mainly from Sri Lanka, Sky News reported.

Today’s tragedy came after the arrival of another vessel, this one with 117  people, bringing this month’s arrivals to 18, and the number of people arriving  to 11-hundred-and-eight

The boat has overturned in Indonesian waters and the Australian Government  has offered assistance.

A spokeswoman for the Australian Maritime Search and Rescue Authority  confirmed survivors had been spotted.

“There are survivors, we cannot confirm numbers at this stage,” she said.

Two Australian patrol boats are heading to the scene as well as a P3  aircraft.

Customs also confirmed the vessel was in the Indonesian search and rescue  Region.
Indonesia’s BASARNAS was the lead authority for coordinating  search and rescue efforts, while ASMA was organising the Australian  end.
“Customs and Border Protection and Defence assets are being  deployed,” Customs said in a statement.
This included a Defence aircraft  equipped with life rafts, a Customs maritime surveillance aircraft, and two  Armidale class patrol boats, HMAS Larrakia and HMAS Wollongong.
A number  of civilian vessels were also responding.
The stricken vessel was spotted  about 3pm this afternoon by a Customs surveillance plane.

Today’s tragedy brings back painful memories of the Christmas Island tragedy  of December 2010 after more than 50 asylum seekers died when a boat known as  SIEV 221 crashed into rocks.
Most of the passengers were Iranian or Iraqi  nationals and the youngest to die was three months old.
The disaster was  the largest loss of life in Australian waters in peacetime in 115  years.
As many as 200 people drowned last December when an overloaded  boat sank off the coast of East Java on its way to Australia.
Just 49  people survived the tragedy, which occurred in rough monsoonal seas on December  17.
Timeline of boat disasters

February 2012

At least eight drown after a boat capsizes near Malaysia

December 2011

Up to 200 die when boat heading from Indonesia to Australia sinks

November  2011

Up to 20 killed when boat capsizes off Java, Indonesia

December 2010

Christmas Island boat crash claims 50 lives, including babies and  children

November 2010

Boat with 97 people on board goes missing

May 2010

5 Sri Lankans drown off the Cocos Islands

October 2009

Asylum boat with 105 Hazaras on board believed to have vanished between  Indonesia and Australia

April 2009

5 Afghan asylum seekers die when their boat explodes

More to come.

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Filed under Boat Tragedy

2 responses to “Asylum seeker boat capsizes north of Christmas Island

  1. Kayls

    Send them ALL back where they came from

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