Sri Lanka probes asylum seekers’ ride to Australia

Colombo, April 11 (IANS) The Sri Lankan navy has launched inquiries to know how a boat of over 60 asylum seekers reached Australia without being detected by authorities, officials said Thursday.

Navy spokesman Kosala Warnakulasuriya said the naval intelligence unit was investigating the incident and no further details can be divulged until investigations are complete, reports Xinhua.

The Australian government Wednesday said they too will launch their own investigation as to how the boat managed to make it to the west Australian port of Geraldton without being detected by border patrol.

Geraldton is the usual destination of asylum seekers heading for Australia, located 2,240 km south of an offshore detention centre for asylum seekers in Christmas Island.

The vessel was detected around noon Tuesday, according to the Australian media. The boat, thought to have come from Sri Lanka, is believed to have been at sea for about six weeks.

A surge in recent months has seen the number of Sri Lankans attempting to flee to Australia by boat rise to almost 4,000.

In an effort to prevent the numbers from rising further, the Australian government recently started an advertising campaign to discourage Sri Lankans from arriving on Australian shores illegally.

Despite the large numbers, the Sri Lankan government has maintained that it is committed to stopping human smuggling and the navy is engaged in seizing boats carrying asylum seekers.

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