August 21, 2012
Sri Lanka’s navy says it has stopped two Australia-bound trawlers carrying 83 would-be asylum seekers.
The two boats were found off the island’s northeastern port of Trincomalee with two women and four children among those on board.
“The trawlers were detected 15 miles [24 kilometres] off the coast,” a spokesman said.
“The 83 people aboard have been handed over to the police.”
The detection was the first since Australia’s parliament last week decided to send asylum-seekers arriving by boat to holding centres on Pacific islands before considering their application for refugee status.
Sri Lankan authorities say they have arrested nearly 900 people who have tried to leave for Australia illegally this year.