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.

  • Indonesia informs convicts of execution, Frenchman excluded
    Indonesia informs convicts of execution, Frenchman excluded

    Indonesia said Saturday it has officially notified eight foreign drug convicts that they will be executed, but a Frenchman was granted a temporary reprieve after Paris stepped up pressure on Jakarta. The eight -- from Australia, Brazil, Nigeria and the Philippines -- have been transported to the high-security prison island of Nusakambangan where they will face the firing squad along with an Indonesian prisoner, despite strident international criticism. "Today, just now, we just finished …

  • Double Celebration
    Double Celebration

    Ropali Corporation, one of the top multi-brand motorcycle dealers in the Philippines, now holds two Guinness World Records. In the span of four days, Ropali Corporation broke two records, namely: The Largest Parade of Motorcycles with Sidecars and The Largest Simultaneous Motorcycle Burnout. As such, it also became the first motorcycle dealer in the Philippines to become a two-time Guinness World Record holder. The record for The Largest Parade of Motorcycles with Sidecars was previously …

  • United States seeks access to Philippine bases as part of Asia pivot
    United States seeks access to Philippine bases as part of Asia pivot

    The United States has asked for access to Philippine military bases in eight locations to rotate troops, aircraft, and ships as Washington shifts its forces to Asia and as China expands its military presence in the South China Sea. U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, in a speech in Arizona, has outlined Washington's next phase in its Asia "pivot", deploying its most sophisticated destroyers, bombers and fighters to the region. The Asia "pivot" has already seen U.S. Marines rotating through the …

  • China's island-building to loom large at SE Asia summit
    China's island-building to loom large at SE Asia summit

    China's creation of new island footholds in contested seas will hover over a Southeast Asian summit that has become an annual test of the region's nerve in standing up to its massive neighbour. The South China Sea hot potato drops this year into Malaysia's lap as the rotating chair of the 10 member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and host of Monday's meeting. ASEAN states Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei claim parts of the strategic South China Sea, but Beijing …

  • Philippines, China trade accusations over sea threats

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippines accused China of aggressive maneuvers against its reconnaissance plane and fishermen in disputed seas where Beijing has stepped up construction of artificial islands, but China reiterated its claim on the strategic waterways. …

  • Indonesia orders execution of Mary Jane, 9 others
    Indonesia orders execution of Mary Jane, 9 others

    Indonesia has ordered preparations for the execution of 10 drug convicts, including Filipina Mary Jane Veloso, as the Philippine government filed yesterday a second appeal for judicial review of the case to save the maid from death by firing squad. The Attorney General’s Office (AGO) of Indonesia released an official letter dated April 23, instructing prosecutors to prepare for the execution of 10 convicts, the Jakarta Post reported yesterday. The execution would be conducted after the …

  • Noy to visit Canada, Japan
    Noy to visit Canada, Japan

    President Aquino will embark on a state visit to Canada in May and Japan in June to meet with his counterparts and promote Philippine interests. Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said Aquino accepted the invitation from Canadian Governor General David Johnston to make a state visit to Canada from May 7 to 9. Tied to this trip is the President’s one-day working visit to the United States to meet with potential investors and with the local Filipino community in Chicago, Valte …

  • Business groups back K to 12 program
    Business groups back K to 12 program

    The government’s K to 12 program adding two more years to basic education received support from various business groups yesterday. However, they urged relevant government agencies to deal with issues regarding the implementation of Republic Act 10533, the Enhanced Basic Education Act or K-12 Law. In a statement, business groups led by the Philippine Business for Education (PBEd) said RA 10533 is a milestone piece of legislation that intends to bring the Philippines up to par with the rest of …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options