December 06, 2013
A search is underway on Christmas Island after the discovery of a group of asylum seekers who landed on a remote beach without being detected.
The ABC has been told a group of about 25 asylum seekers have been living on a remote beach on the south-eastern side of the island since their boat sank on Monday.
Christmas Island’s shire councillor Gordon Thomson says the group was only detected when some of the asylum seekers were spotted walking along a main road into town earlier today.
“This morning eight or nine people walked up onto one of our main roads from Dolly Beach – the eight or nine people are probably Rohingya,” he said.
“There are another 15 or 16 people still on Dolly Beach who are part of that group, so the total number is about 25.
“Their boat has sunk and they have been living on Dolly Beach since Monday.
“We’re told that when offered water and food, they weren’t thirsty and they weren’t that hungry, so they seem to have survived quite well since Monday.
“They’ve obviously decided to have a look around on day four.”
Mr Thomson says the asylum seekers found on the road have been taken into immigration detention.
“There was a mad scramble [about] 11:30am … the police and the customs and they went up to pick people up,” he said.
“I assume that somebody has driven along the road and has seen the group of people walking along the road and called the cops.
“No-one is injured, no-one has been lost – that’s the information at the top of the road.
“We’re yet to hear the details from the group that’s still on the beach, but the group that has been taken into detention gave that information to police and that’s all the information the police have been able to give me.”
A search is underway for the rest of the group.
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison earlier released a very brief statement saying the people involved were being questioned by “on-island agencies”.
“Details of the incident are not clear at this point and persons who were involved in this incident are being questioned by on island agencies,” the statement said.
“On island agencies and Border Protection Command assets are also responding and are on scene.”