Two boats carrying 160 suspected asylum seekers intercepted

December 16, 2012

TWO boats carrying a total of 160 people have been intercepted off the Australian coast in the past 24 hours.

A boat carrying 101 people was intercepted north of Christmas Island. HMAS Pirie, operating under the control of Border Protection Command, intercepted the vessel yesterday after it was initially detected by an RAAF maritime patrol aircraft.

Border Protection Command said there were 97 passengers and four crew members on board.

Also yesterday, a boat carrying 59 people was intercepted by HMAS Bathurst northeast of the Ashmore Islands.

Border Protection Command said there were 56 passengers and three crew members on board.

All passengers from both boats were transferred to Christmas Island for the usual security, health and identity checks.

At the same time, more asylum seekers arrived at the makeshift detention centre on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island, bringing the total number at the site to 101.

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Thirty-four people, families from Iran, Afghanistan, India and Sri Lanka, arrived at Manus Island early today.

They were accompanied by Australian Federal Police, immigration staff, interpreters, children’s services and medical staff.

It is the fourth transfer of irregular maritime arrivals to the temporary tent processing facility on PNG’s Lombrum naval base in Manus province.

An Immigration Department spokesman could not say how many children were among the group.

“The completion of this transfer reaffirms the strong message of deterrence for anyone considering risking their lives on dangerous people smuggling boats,” the department said in a statement. “There will be no advantage for boat arrivals.”
Source: The Australian

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