Monday, 10 May 2010

Australian 'Boat People' Drown

The Australian authorities are in trouble yet again for their apparent disregard for the safety of another boatload of asylum seekers off the northern Australian coast. Australia has a long history of monitoring boats far off in the Indian Ocean as they try to make the crossing from Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Indonesia to the Australian mainland. Satellite data, spotter aircraft, naval and coast guard ships are all involved via the Border Protection Command (BPC), which has kept watch on more than 50 boats so far this year.

The BPC were apparently told that that a boat containing 64 people, including 15 children, and headed for the Cocos (Keeling) Islands had run out of fuel, food and water on 30 April. A passing ship provided assistance and reported that the boat remained seaworthy and everyone was in good health.

According to Australian Customs, when the boat failed to arrive at the Cocos last Wednesday (as Australian authorities expected), a search and rescue mission was launched. The boat was eventually located floundering 160 nautical miles off shore and rescued by the same Russian merchant vessel that had helped them the week before. It was then discovered that 5 men had donned life-jackets and tried to swim for help. They have not been found and are presumed to have drowned.

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