Indonesia: Boat carrying about 170 sinks. 4 dead, 157 rescued, others missing – 240713 2230z

A boat carrying as many as 170 suspected asylum seekers bound for Australia has sunk off the south coast of Indonesia, with up to 60 people feared dead or missing, Australian media reported on Wednesday.

The latest mishap at sea involving boat people came less than a week after Australia slammed the door on would-be refugees with a deal to send all boat arrivals to Papua New Guinea for assessment and eventual settlement.

As many as 170 people were on board the vessel, which broke up in heavy seas late on Tuesday, News Ltd reported.

More than 100 people, mostly from Iran and Sri Lanka, were rescued by fisherman in the area overnight, it said.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) confirmed that a rescue operation was underway, without providing further information.

“Indonesian authorities are coordinating the rescue of that incident. AMSA is not involved at this stage,” a spokeswoman for the authority said. Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue (Basarnas) was not immediately available for comment.

Wednesday, 24 July, 2013 at 04:01 (04:01 AM) UTC RSOE

Other Reports

Al Jazeera:

Deaths after refugee boat sinks off Indonesia

Three people confirmed dead and others missing after asylum-seeker boat bound for Australia breaks up off coast of Java.

Three people are confirmed drowned and more deaths are feared after an asylum-seeker boat bound for Australia sank off West Java in Indonesia.

Australian media reported that the boat was carrying up to 170 people, mostly refugees from Sri Lanka and Iran, when it broke up and sank in heavy seas on Tuesday evening.

Indonesian authorities said that they had found 157 people alive and four dead, and searches were ongoing on Wednesday for others. They said the passengers were from Iran, Sri Lanka and possibly Iraq.

“We don’t know exactly how many were on board, so we’re focusing on searching for any more that may be out there,” Bandung search and rescue chief Rochmali told AFP early on Wednesday, adding the figure would likely be between 100 and 200.

“We will just focus on ensuring they’re well and making sure no one else is still at sea,” he said.

The Sydney Daily Telegraph, reporting from Java, said the engine of the boat started smoking and taking on water shortly after departure.

A man calling himself Soheil told the newspaper that he was the sole survivor of a group of 61 Iranians who set off from the fishing village of Cidaun.

Canberra’s new asylum policy

Hundreds have drowned making the same journey to Australia. Only a few days ago four people died in a boat that sank off Christmas Island, Australia.

The latest disaster on Wednesday came just days after Canberra announced a hardline new plan to send all unauthorised arrivals to its shores to Papua New Guinea.

Asylum-seekers arriving in Australian waters will now be sent to the Manus Island processing centre in Papua New Guinea and elsewhere in the Pacific nation for assessment, with no cap on the number that can be transferred.

They will not have chance to settle in Australia and will only allowed to live in Papua New Guinea if their asylum claims are approved.

‘Hollow and hypocritical’

Human rights groups have expressed outrage at Australia’s decision.

The Refugee Council of Australia said on Tuesday that the arrangement would exacerbate the regions challenges with people movement by undermining efforts to improve refugee protection for those who most needed it.

Paul Power, the council’s chief executive, said that Australia could not outsource its Refugee Convention responsibilities to a much poorer neighbour and remain credible in advocating that other nations improve protection standards for refugees.

“By unreasonably shifting its responsibilities for asylum seekers to Papua New Guinea through this Regional Resettlement Arrangement (RRA), Australias international advocacy for responsibility sharing has been exposed as hollow and hypocritical,” Power said in a written statement.

This arrangement is without precedent in the world. It cannot possibly be presented as an example of regional co-operation because it is little more than a wealthy country paying a much weaker neighbour to take on its international responsibilities to people seeking asylum. ” – aljazeera

Videos

Asylum boat sinks off Java


(Video credit: 7NEWS)

Published on Jul 23, 2013

Up to 60 people are feared dead after an asylum seeker boat headed to Australia sank off the coast of Indonesia.

3 dead and 157 saved after asylum seeker boat sinks

(Video credit: Zoominuk)

Published on Jul 24, 2013

At least three people, two of them children, died on Tuesday, when a boat carrying would-be asylum seekers to Australia sunk in Indonesia waters. An official said more than 150 survivors had been rescued, mostly from Iran and Iraq, but it was unclear how many more might be missing.

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