June 10, 2013
Customs officials have decided they will not retrieve the bodies of at least 55 asylum seekers who are presumed to have drowned off Christmas Island.
Last night the Australian Maritime and Safety Authority (AMSA) abandoned the search for survivors from an asylum boat which sank late last week.
A three-day air and sea search of the area, 65 nautical miles north-west of the island, failed to find any survivors.
So far 13 bodies have been spotted in the water near where the boat went down, but none have been recovered.
Customs says at this stage its priority remains on responding to vessels in distress and preventing any further loss of life at sea.
“When those operations have been concluded and there is no further risk to life, Border Protection Command will endeavour to recover, where possible, any bodies which may be relocated,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
“The likelihood of successful recovery will diminish over time.”