Indonesia finds missing asylum seeker boat

Indonesian authorities said Saturday they had found a boat reported missing en route to Australia and that the dozens of asylum seekers it was carrying were believed to have fled.

Authorities had been searching for the boat since the mostly Afghan asylum seekers on board made a distress call to Australia on Wednesday, saying they were in rough seas and their boat was sinking.

Refugee advocates who said 60 asylum seekers were on board alerted Australian authorities, who passed on the information to Indonesian officials.

Indonesian authorities said they had located the missing vessel late on Friday on Lombok island, which lies just east of the popular resort island of Bali, although residents said they spotted the asylum seekers on Wednesday.

"People in Lombok informed us that they saw the boat arrive on the shore on Wednesday, and that people came ashore and ran off," Nanang Sigit, a search and rescue official in West Nusa Tenggara province told AFP.

"We were not alerted immediately, so we only found the boat Friday night. We're now working with police and are conducting a search on the island."

Mataram city search and rescue chief Marsudi said some residents reported spotting the asylum seekers in a forest.

"Some members of the community reported that they saw foreigners in the jungle around 10 kilometres (six miles) from the beach where the boat was spotted," Marsudi said.

Ian Rintoul of Brisbane-based Refugee Action Network told AFP he believed the vessel has still been at sea as late as Friday, when he last spoke to the asylum seekers via mobile phone.

"If they found a boat on the island Wednesday, then it's not the right boat," he said.

"When I spoke to them last, I could hear the wind and water in the background. They said the boat had taken a lot of water."

Indonesian officials said they were calling off the search for the vessel, apparently satisfied they had found the right boat, based on residents' reports that more than 50 people of Afghan appearance got off the boat and ran.

An AFP correspondent saw the boat on Bumbangku beach in southern Lombok, saying the 10-metre (yard) long wooden vessel had a fine crack about seven metres long along its floor, and that water had seeped through.

The boat was full of empty instant noodle packets and water bottles.

Each year thousands of refugees -- many in recent months from Afghanistan -- try to make the perilous journey through Indonesian waters in hopes of seeking asylum in Australia.

"Asylum seekers coming to Australia by boat face very real risks and we need to work together now to prevent another tragedy from occurring," Australian Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said.

Many of the overloaded and rickety boats used by people smugglers for the journey do not make it.

Last week, a Singapore-registered tanker rescued around 120 Australia-bound asylum seekers -- all men and mostly Afghans and some Iranians -- from their sinking wooden boat.

They finally disembarked in Indonesia, after refusing to get off the docked tanker for two days, insisting they be allowed to continue their journey to Australia.

In December, a boat carrying around 250 mostly Afghan and Iranian asylum seekers sank in Indonesian waters on its way to Christmas Island, with only 47 surviving.

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.

  • Philippines backs support for small enterprises at APEC meet

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippines' top trade official on Saturday called for support for the integration of micro, small and medium enterprises in global trade, which he said would help reduce poverty and inequality in the Asia-Pacific region. …

  • US renews travel warning to Mindanao
    US renews travel warning to Mindanao

    The US State Department renewed its warning about the risks of travel to the Philippines, in particular to the Sulu archipelago, certain regions and cities of Mindanao and the southern Sulu Sea area. In an update on Wednesday of a travel warning it issued Nov. 20, 2014, the State Department said US citizens should continue to defer non-essential travel to the Sulu archipelago due to the high threat of kidnapping of international travelers and violence linked to insurgency and terrorism there. …

  • Phl gains support for APEC Action Agenda
    Phl gains support for APEC Action Agenda

    The Philippine initiative to put the interests of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) front and center in global and regional trade has made significant progress following the conclusion on Thursday of the 2nd APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM2) and Related Meetings in Boracay, Aklan. Called “The Boracay Action Agenda to Globalize MSMEs,” the Philippine proposal calls for a host of specific, concrete and practical interventions that APEC economies can implement to provide MSMEs wider …

  • Phl to join Bangkok meet on Rohingya crisis next week
    Phl to join Bangkok meet on Rohingya crisis next week

    The Philippines will join a 15-nation meeting in Bangkok, Thailand next week to address the migration crisis involving thousands of Rohingyas who escaped persecution in Myanmar and Bangladesh. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima bared this yesterday after meeting with United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) representative to the Philippines Bernard Kerblat. In an interview, De Lima said the Philippine government has been invited to the meeting. …

  • Magnitude 4.2 quake jolts Sorsogon
    Magnitude 4.2 quake jolts Sorsogon

    LEGAZPI CITY—A magnitude 4.2 earthquake hit Prieto Diaz town in Sorsogon before dawn yesterday, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said. …

  • Drought-resistant rice breeds bared
    Drought-resistant rice breeds bared

    SCIENCE CITY OF MUÑOZ, Nueva Ecija – Amid the searing heat, the Philippine Rice Research Institute central experiment station here has identified nine rice breeds which have been proven to be drought-resistant and produce high yields in temperatures as high as 38°C based on a recent study. Thelma Padolina, lead researcher of the study titled “Screening of rice-induced mutants for heat and drought tolerance,” identified the breeding lines as the Ballatinaw lines, PSB Rc72H and Azucena lines. …

  • Phl, US assert rights, ignore China warning
    Phl, US assert rights, ignore China warning

    The United States military will continue air and sea patrols in international waters even after the Chinese navy repeatedly warned a US surveillance plane to leave the airspace over artificial islands China is creating in the disputed South China Sea. The Philippine government also declared it would continue activities in the region, calling on China to respect freedom of navigation and aviation. “Our position on the importance of letting freedom of navigation, freedom of aviation and …

  • MM shutdown eyed for quake drill; 6 schools warned
    MM shutdown eyed for quake drill; 6 schools warned

    Electricity and mobile phone services would be cut throughout Metro Manila, and all private and government offices and businesses, including shopping malls, would be closed. That would be the situation on July 16 between 3 and 8 p.m. to simulate the scenario of a 7.2 magnitude earthquake. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) has warned that an earthquake of that magnitude could occur and kill at least 33,500 people and injure at least 113,600 others following a …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options