Australian Navy saves 106 asylum seekers

Thursday, 22 August 2013 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Christmas Island: The Australian navy rescued 106 people from a crowded asylum-seeker boat after it ran into difficulties about 120 nautical miles north of Australia’s Christmas Island territory in the Indian Ocean recently. Five people are said to have drowned after the boat foundered, authorities said. The rescue comes in the middle of Australia’s campaign for the September 7 election, where border protection and tough policies to deter asylum seekers are important issues. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority said it received the call for help from someone aboard the boat early on Tuesday. The survivors arrived at the Australian Territory of Christmas Island, a frequent destination for refugee boats from Indonesia and a favoured route for people-smugglers, on board the Australian navy’s HMAS Parramatta on Wednesday (21 August). More than 18,000 asylum seekers have arrived in Australian territory since January, prompting Australia to announce all new boat arrivals will be sent to Papua New Guinea or the Pacific island nation of Nauru for processing and resettlement if their refugee claims are accepted. Since 2001, around 1,000 people have died while trying to reach Christmas Island by boat.