January 29, 2013
AT least two Sri Lankan asylum-seekers have drowned and a third is missing after their boat smashed into rocks and broke apart off the coast of Java as they headed for Australia.
Twenty survivors, including a four-year-old boy and a 10-year-old girl, are on the island of Nusa Kambangan near the coastal town of Cilacap after being rescued by fishermen.
Two of the asylum-seekers have been taken to a hospital in Cilacap for treatment.
The group had been making their way to Australia when the boat’s engine broke down yesterday.
The vessel drifted for hours before it foundered on rocks near Nusa Kambangan.
The island, known as the Alcatraz of Indonesia, is home to a number of maximum security prisons and was where some of the 2002 Bali bombers were incarcerated and later executed.
Fisherman started picking up survivors about 7pm last night.
The head of the Cilacap immigration office, Syamsul Bahri, said the survivors had confirmed they had left Sri Lanka and made their way to Indonesian waters ahead of the final leg to Christmas Island.
“They’re saying that they’re … heading to Australia,” he said.
He said the survivors would be moved to an immigration detention centre in Semarang.