August 20, 2013
More than 100 asylum seekers have been rescued from the water after their boat was swamped about 200 kilometres off Christmas Island.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) received a distress call from the boat earlier today and sent HMAS Parramatta and a Customs plane to the area.
The boat was found upright but partly submerged.
Crews pulled 106 asylum seekers from the water, two people are reported to have minor injuries.
A merchant vessel also assisted with the rescue and another Navy vessel, HMAS Pirie, is on the way to continue with the search and recovery effort.
It is not known what nationality the asylum seekers are but it is expected they will be taken to Christmas Island for health and security checks before being sent to Papua New Guinea.
The latest rescue operation comes on the same day an international conference on stopping asylum seekers began in Indonesia, with delegates from Australia and 12 other countries attending.
The Jakarta meeting, attended by Foreign Minister Bob Carr and Immigration Minister Tony Burke, aims to produce “concrete results” in stopping asylum seekers and people smuggling.
Indonesian foreign minister Marty Natelegawa opened the conference, saying an increase in the number of people moving across the globe was an issue all countries were concerned about.
A total of 14 nations were meant to be attending, but Iran, a major source of many of the thousands of asylum seekers who have arrived in Australia this year, did not sent a delegate as promised.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organisation for Migration are at the meeting.
The talks in Jakarta follow Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s new policy, unveiled last month, that sends asylum seekers arriving in Australia by boat to PNG for processing, and resettlement if they are found to be refugees.