Kupang: Indonesia has detained 140 migrants who were trying to reach Australia after their boat suffered problems, police said on Monday.
The migrants, including Afghans, Pakistanis and Iranians, were found on Sunday night on a beach off East Nusa Tenggara province in the far east of the archipelago, provincial police official Lilik Aprianto said.
"The group, including women and children, were found on a beach in Ndao island as their boat experienced engine problems after it was hit by huge waves," he added.
"They said they`re seeking asylum in Australia," Aprianto said, adding that the case will be handed over to the immigration department and the International Organisation for Migration.
Indonesia is a key staging post for people-smugglers bringing Afghans, Sri Lankans and other nationals for the perilous onward sea journey to Australia where many seek asylum.
Ministers from around the Asia-Pacific region signed a non-binding framework agreement last week to tackle smuggling networks and humanely process the large numbers of migrants moving through the region.
An Australian proposal to establish a processing centre in East Timor appeared to have stalled, but Dili said it was still considering the idea.