Government under fire over decision not to search for bodies after Christmas Island asylum boat sinking

June 11, 2013

The Federal Government has been criticised for refusing to divert ships and aircraft to search for the bodies of dozens of asylum seekers believed to have drowned off Christmas Island.

Roughly 55 people seen on an asylum seeker boat that sank late last week are now presumed dead after a three-day air-and-sea search failed to find any survivors.

The Federal Government said yesterday that retrieving the bodies was not a priority, due to operational activities.

But Australia’s Tamil community says there would be outrage if the bodies of Australian victims of a boat sinking were left to float in the ocean.

The executive officer of the Australian Tamil Congress, Bala Vigneswaran, says at least one or two boats should have stayed behind to search for bodies.

“If the Government, or the decision-makers, think it is OK to leave the people behind because they are not Australian and they’re not worth it – if they want to put it that way – it’s not right,” he said.

“If they were Australians I am sure that I would be angry. I’m sure that everybody here in Australia would be very disappointed and I don’t think we would have treated Australians like this.”

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Filed under Australian Government and Opposition, Boat Tragedy

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