Boat carrying 152 Aus asylum-seekers in trouble

Boat carrying 152 Aus asylum-seekers in trouble
Melbourne, Jun 28: A boat carrying 152 Sri Lankan Tamil asylum-seekers, including women and children, bound for Australia is reportedly in trouble at sea off a remote Australian island after it left India.

Media reports said today that the boat which was 300 km west of Christmas Island reportedly suffered an oil leak. ABC quoted a man on the boat named Duke who informed that the group on the boat was mostly Tamils from Sri Lanka who left from India two weeks ago.

He claimed that the vessel was in trouble now after it started to spring an oil leak. Duke said the group was determined to make it to Australia to seek asylum. "There are 32 women and we have 37 children, 253 kilometres from Christmas Island," he said adding "We are refugees. We come from Sri Lanka – we stayed in India and we are unable to live there. That's why we are coming to Australia". "Seeking assistance," he said "It's heavily raining also. We didn't get help anywhere. The wind is blowing in high speed, and (there are) huge waves". "The children and infants are also in the boat. We can see some boats lights, maybe fishing boats."

A female passenger also spoke to Fairfax Media and said "We need some help. We are refugees". Another man, who spoke Tamil said, "We have come to Christmas Island because we don't have anything. We have travelled all the way from India.

The boat is damaged, it is leaking," he said. "There are children, including infants and we are unable to manage." Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott when queried about the latest report on asylum seekers said, "We will be doing what we normally do in respect of operation Sovereign Borders". The boat allegedly left Puducherry on June 13. Hundreds of asylum-seekers have drowned while making the hazardous sea voyage to Australia in recent years.

Canberra has toughened its policy on asylum-seekers to deny those arriving on unauthorised boats the ability to resettle in Australia even if found to be genuine refugees. Instead, they are sent to camps in the Pacific, on Papua New Guinea's Manus Island and the tiny state of Nauru to be resettled there. 


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