August 1, 2012
A boat carrying 69 asylum seekers is believed to have arrived undetected at the Cocos Islands.
Local resident Jack O’Donnell, who has a beachfront house, says he spotted the boat just after 8:00 am local time, about 200 metres offshore.
He says four men on board then swam ashore.
“About 10 minutes later four of the refugees, they’re Tamils, swam with life jackets through the surf,” he said.
Mr O’Donnell says one man, who spoke broken English, said there were 69 people on board who were exhausted and in need of food.
“It was obviously crowded with bodies,” he said.
“We were just worried that they might try and traverse the surf which would be dangerous, well, it would be catastrophic because it’s jagged reef.”
Mr O’Donnell says he alerted police who showed up and spoke to the four men.
It is understood the boat has been towed to the island’s lagoon.
Customs has not been able to confirm any details.
Overnight, a boat carrying 28 asylum seekers was intercepted west of the Cocos Islands but it is believed the two boats are different.
And, Australian authorities have intercepted an asylum seeker boat north of Christmas Island.
It is understood there are 43 passengers and two crew on board.
The group has been transferred to Christmas Island for health, security and identity checks.