Boat of asylum seekers intercepted off Australia

Last Updated: Monday, July 2, 2012 - 10:20

Melbourne: A boat carrying 39 passengers, suspected to be asylum seekers, was intercepted off Australian waters on Monday, taking to four the number of such vessels offloaded in a week.

According to a media report, the vessel carrying the 39 mainly male asylum seekers was currently sitting not far from shore at Christmas Island`s cove, with around five Navy officers on board.

Their boat was intercepted overnight west of Christmas Island and was moored in the cove.

The passengers were expected to be moved to one of the detention facilities on the island.

The latest arrival has taken the toll to total four since last Thursday which saw three more boats intercepted or offloaded.

Yesterday, a boat carrying Sri Lankan men was also intercepted and the 53 passengers were brought to Flying Fish Cove.

Another vessel carrying 67 Sri Lankans was also reported at Christmas Island`s airport after they were flown from Cocos Islands.

Passengers from another boat carrying 41 people, whose identities are unknown, are also on their way to the island after being intercepted on Friday at the Ashmore Islands.

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship said they were "closely monitoring the situation" and had arrangements in place including isolation accommodation if necessary.

Australia is struggling to deal with a steady influx of asylum-seekers, many of whom use Indonesia as a transit hub, after fleeing states such as Afghanistan, Iran and Sri Lanka.

Tragedy at sea killed more than 90 such people in recent days after their boats sank. The issue has become a political hot potato in Australia.

Over 5,000 people have come to Australia through the sea route in 2012 so far.

PTI



First Published: Monday, July 2, 2012 - 10:20

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