Australians board asylum boat found in rough seas

Australian authorities Wednesday boarded a boat packed with asylum seekers off Indonesia and began transferring the 164 on board to a navy ship after the vessel ran into trouble in rough seas.

Australia's Customs and Border Protection agency said two military ships, the HMAS Wollongong and HMAS Leeuwin reached the rickety vessel as night fell in waters south of Java after the boat had issued a distress call.

"A boarding party from HMAS Wollongong has boarded the vessel and initial reports are that 164 people are on board," the agency said in a statement.

"Due to concerns about the seaworthiness of the vessel attempts are being made to transfer the people from the vessel to HMAS Leeuwin," it added.

"Continuing rough sea conditions will mean the transfer may take several hours."

Australia's Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare earlier told reporters that the boat, which issued an alarm just before dawn Wednesday, "appears to be upright and in a stable condition but the weather conditions were very rough".

Someone on board had used a satellite phone to make a distress call to the Australian authorities saying the boat was taking on water as it was pounded by three-metre (10-foot) waves.

The latest in a series of asylum boats incidents north of Australia's remote Christmas Island territory, it came one day after Jakarta and Canberra agreed to boost cooperation on such rescues following a recent spate of deaths.

Some 94 people are estimated to have drowned after two boats went down on the perilous sea route in recent weeks. One vessel capsized midway through its journey in an incident thought to have claimed 90 lives.

Customs said it was "anticipated that HMAS Leeuwin will transfer the people to Christmas Island" -- Australia's main processing centre for refugees -- once they have been removed from the stricken boat.

The boat is within Indonesia's maritime search and rescue zone and Clare said Australian rescuers were working with their Indonesian counterparts Bon the operation.

The emergency came one day after Prime Minister Julia Gillard hosted talks with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, agreeing to enhance cooperation on people-smuggling, particularly in search and rescue missions.

Clare said Australian and Indonesian police were also working closely to stop refugees paying people-smugglers to bring them to Australia -- with one man arrested in Indonesia on Friday suspected of being a key member of the syndicate behind the boat on which 90 people died.

Australian police are interviewing another suspect on Christmas Island, where all boat arrivals are initially taken while their claims are assessed.

More than 5,200 asylum-seekers have come to Australia so far this year on boats, many of which are fragile, wooden vessels from transit hubs in Indonesia.

Canberra's bid to deter people smugglers from making the dangerous voyage to Australia by sending asylum-seekers to Malaysia for processing has so far failed to be passed by parliament, despite the recent fatalities.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Que nails first title in 3 years

    The three-time Asian Tour champion, who bounced back from a mediocre start of 72 and 71 with a fiery 66 Friday to tie Tabuena at helm, pooled a 72-hole total of seven-under 281 to nail the elusive win on the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour worth P650,000. Hounded by poor putting, Tabuena went birdie-less for the first time in a long while but still stayed in the title hunt with a slew of pars at the back until he bogeyed the 17th and fell by two. …

  • Church: Donate to ‘Alay Kapwa’

    An official of the Church’s social action arm has asked the faithful to be generous when making a donation to "Alay Kapwa" today, Palm Sunday, which is also designated as Alay Kapwa Sunday.   Fr. Edu Gariguez, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines-National Secretariat for Social Action (CBCP-NASSA), said the faithful should generously give to Alay Kapwa as the amount collected will be used as emergency funds for crisis and calamities both from natural and …

  • ‘PNP’s systematic anti-crime drive to be sustained

    Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) secretary Manuel ‘Mar’ Roxas II vowed to sustain the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) deliberate, programmatic and determined approach in fighting criminality.  “The President and Filipino people can be assured that the PNP will not slow down in its mission of fighting criminality, not only in Metro Manila but nationwide," said Roxas, who bared that there has been a significant drop in criminal activities within Metro Manila, especially …

  • Visayas grid to benefit from new Luzon power plants

    Owing to the existing transmission interconnection, Visayas grid is seen benefitting from the projected ‘oversupply’ that may saturate Luzon in the next three years. The Department of Energy and players from the power industry have noted the scant flow of capital for new power projects in Visayas, but they underscored that the transmission link-up would enable the sharing of energy between the two grids. First Gen executive vice president Ernesto B. Pantangco, who is also vice president of …

  • Arroyo’s co-accused permitted to undergo hospital procedure

    A co-accused of former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in a plunder case has been allowed by the Sandiganbayan First Division to undergo a medical procedure tomorrow. The graft court permitted former Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) board member Benigno Aguas, who was also its former budget and accounts manager, to undergo a cardiopulmonary/endocrine clearance procedure at the St. Luke's Medical Center in Quezon City this morning. Aguas, who is …

  • Petron expands petroleum retail operations

    Following the completion of its re-branding on acquired assets, leading Philippine oil firm Petron Corporation is now setting its goal on expanding its retail network in Malaysian petroleum market. The company has emphasized “20 more sites are in various stages of construction and commissioning.” On the downstream petroleum industry, it is the first time that a Filipino firm had brought its brand to an offshore market. It is technically some sort of ‘symbiosis’ when it comes to investments …

  • PAGASA: Storm may enter PH by Wednesday

    It may be a wet and windy Holy Week due to an erstwhile low pressure area which has intensified into a tropical storm with international name "Maysak,” according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.As of yesterday morning, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) estimated the cyclone at about 3,300 kilometers east of Mindanao and outside the Philippine area of responsibility (PAR).Should it maintain its present speed and track, it may enter the …

  • News In Brief

    The weighted average rate stands at P44.796 MINDANAO INFRASTRUCTURE SHARE INCREASED In a bid to boost the Mindanao economy, the Philippine government has increased the southern island’s share of the 2015 infrastructure budget to 30%, or around $4 billion, said Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson at the Philippines Investment Forum in Manila last week. “In 10 years’ time it’s still likely to be 30% because while the Philippines is committed to growing renewables, demand will …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options