Missing Asylum Boat

Australian and Indonesian authorities are searching for a missing boat, believed to be carrying asylum seekers.

Australia and Indonesia search for missing asylum boat

Australian and Indonesian authorities are searching for a missing boat, believed to be carrying asylum seekers.

Six people were plucked from the water early Thursday morning by a commercial ship 42 nautical miles west of Java, Australian officials confirmed.

A distress call on Wednesday said the boat, carrying 150 people, had engine trouble, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said.

Indonesian authorities searched the waters but could not locate the boat.

”The search and rescue operation will continue throughout the day with the focus on recovering survivors,” said an AMSA statement.

The six survivors were found by the APL Bahrain, reports said. The group of Afghan men had been in the water for 24 hours, the captain of the ship told Australian media.

There were also women and children on the missing boat, he added.

The number of missing people could not be confirmed, Australia’s Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare told reporters.

“We have grave fears for a lot more,” he said. ”Don’t underestimate how difficult this task is; don’t underestimate how big the sea that we’re searching is.”

‘Dangerous boat journeys’

Asylum seekers often target Christmas Island, off Australia’s northwest coast, to get to the country. They make the journey from Indonesia in boats that are usually overloaded and poorly maintained.

In June, a boat with 200 asylum seekers sank near the island – 17 bodies were found and another 70 were feared dead after a three-day search. That was the second boat to sink in a week, reigniting the debate on asylum in parliament.

Last week, Australia said it will increase its intake of refugees to 20,000 a year, from the current 13,750, in line with recommendations by an expert panel.

Lawmakers also recently approved the re-opening of offshore processing camps for asylum seekers in Nauru and PNG.

The moves are aimed at deterring asylum seekers from making the dangerous journey to Australia by boat, amid an increasing number of arrivals.

Source: BBC

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