September 22, 2012
INDONESIAN officials say 189 people taken from an asylum seeker boat in trouble off west Java will be taken to Christmas Island.
All of the asylum seekers and crew aboard the boat, which this morning was adrift in the southern Sunda Strait about 40 nautical miles south of Panaitan Island, are safe.
An Australian Maritime Safety Authority spokesperson said the boat had not sunk, contrary to earlier information from officials in Jakarta.
The passengers were taken off by two merchant vessels in the area, assisted by the Australian navy vessel Larrakia.
Australia asked for clearance to send HMAS Larrakia and four aircraft into the Indonesian zone to assist the search and rescue effort.
The boat, was earlier believed to be carrying about 200 passengers, but officials in Jakarta said tonight all aboard were accounted for.
The boat had been headed for Christmas Island.
Australian Marine Safety Authority notified the Indonesia of the emergency about 9am local time.
On August 28 an overloaded boat carrying about 160 Afghan asylum seekers capsized in the southern Sunda Strait.
Fifty five people were eventually rescued, some after 36 hours in the water, but it is assumed that more than 100 drowned, including children and women.
Australian and Indonesian ministers three weeks ago agreed on a six-point plan to improve search and rescue co-operation in Indonesia’s search and rescue zone between AMSA and Basarnas, the Indonesian rescue agency.
However, a rapid clearance system to allow Australian aircraft to enter Indonesian territory with minimum delays and land for refuelling is still being negotiated.
Additional reporting: Telly Nathalia