Fears for asylum seekers after life jackets wash up on Cocos Island beach

May 28, 2013

Cocos Islands

The life jackets washed up on a beach at Cocos Islands.
AAP: Andrea Hayward

Australian Federal Police have confirmed 28 life jackets have washed up on a beach at Cocos Islands off Western Australia’s northern coast.

They were reported by local residents on Friday.

One is believed to have contained a small amount of Iranian money.

Federal police are working with Border Protection Command to try to determine where the life jackets came from.

In a statement, the AFP says it is common for debris and other items to wash up on the east coast of Cocos Islands, including items from Indonesia.

It says the Australian Maritime Safety Authority cannot find a specific incident it can relate to the life jackets.

The AFP is appealing for members of the public who have any information to contact them.

The Refugee Action Coalition’s Ian Rintoul says authorities should have launched a search.

“I just think it’s astounding that the Federal Police or the Border Protection should be still waiting after three days,” he said.

“I mean it is a basic indication that someone is in trouble and you would have expected there to be a search by now.”

Mr Rintoul says it is highly likely the life jackets belong to asylum seekers.

“We need an immediate search,” he said.

“I mean, if there’s life jackets washed up on any other beach in Australia there would be a search to determine the origin of those life jackets and to provide any kind of assistance to any boat that was in trouble.

“Safety of life at sea requires an immediate response.”

Hundreds of asylum seekers have drowned at sea while trying to reach Australia.

The biggest disaster was the sinking of the Siev X in 2001 which claimed the lives of 350 people.

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-05-27/fears-more-asylum-seekers-may-have-drowned/4714346


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