Indonesian rescue authorities were last night still unable to find survivors or likely search sites for possibly two asylum-seeker boats that disappeared in the Sunda Strait last week.
The weekend passed without Basarnas, the search and rescue agency, initiating searches for between 60 and 120 passengers thought to be missing. Basarnas officials said yesterday they still could not confirm 14 people had survived one sinking, though immigration officials at Pelabuhan Ratu, on the West Java coast, said survivors were handed over to them by local police on Thursday night. However, the 14 Afghan men escaped, an officer said.
It now appears either there were two sinkings — one late on Tuesday or early Wednesday and another on Thursday night — or information sent by the Australian Marine Safety Authority on Friday morning was related to the first incident. Just after midnight on Friday, Indonesian time, the AMSA told Basarnas a boat might have sank in the strait between Java and Sumatra. There was no action from Indonesia for at least seven hours but Basarnas officials later said they had been given different locations by AMSA.
The last few weeks has seen a major increase in the rate of asylum-seeker arrivals. Most are Afghani or Iranian but The Australian understands there has also been an increase in the number of Vietnamese arrivals.
Foreign Minister Bob Carr yesterday issued a fresh warning to Tony Abbott about the diplomatic perils of the Coalition’s boat tow-back policy. “There are some currents in Indonesian public opinion that are a little anti-Western and could easily be ignited and directed against Australia,” Senator Carr told Sky’s Australian Agenda.
The warning came as two more boats were intercepted. One, carrying 75 people, was stopped east of Christmas Island on Saturday. The second, also intercepted east of Christmas Island yesterday, was carrying 25 passengers. A spokesman for Home affairs Minister Jason Clare said a third had been detected “more than 100 nautical miles from Broome” and would be intercepted.Source: The Australian – Jakarta still stalling on asylum rescue effort
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