13 dead as asylum seekers’ boat sinks off Australia

Canberra, June 9 (IANS) At least 13 people were dead after an asylum seekers’ boat sank near Christmas Island off Western Australia, Australian Home Affair Minister Jason Clare said Sunday.

Clare said about 55 people were earlier seen in the vessel in waters off Western Australia’s north coast. And these people were mostly adult men, but included a small number of women and children. The bodies are yet to be recovered as the search for survivors continues, reports Xinhua.

“This is another terrible tragedy. Another terrible reminder how dangerous these journeys are,” Clare said.

The boat was first spotted Wednesday morning by an Australian air force plane but Australian authorities never received a distress call from it.

Then HMAS Warramunga was sent to the location and arrived on Thursday morning, but did not find the vessel.

The search continued along the approach corridor to Christmas Island throughout Thursday and Friday along with the help of aircraft.

The boat’s submerged hull was spotted Friday by an Air Force aircraft some 65 nautical miles northwest of Christmas Island.

The navy vessel on the spot found wood and life jackets floating, with the first body sighted late Friday and another 12 found by Sunday morning.

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