Indonesia resumes search for survivors of asylum-seeker boat sinking

Peter Alford
The Australian
September 28, 2013 12:29PM

WEST Java police and emergency services have resumed their search for possible survivors of the latest asylum-seeker tragedy off the Indonesian coast.

Sixteen of the 21 dead so far known were children and women, police in the coastal village of Agrabinta told The Australian this morning.

The sinking is the second fatal boat accident off the West Java since then prime minister Kevin Rudd announced in mid-July Australia was shutting its doors to any asylum-seekers arriving by boat.

Tony Abbott is due in Jakarta on Monday afternoon for talks with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Though Mr Abbott has tried to de-emphasise his new government's controversial anti-asylum seeker program, this latest tragedy and a diplomatic blow-up, involving Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and her Indonesian counterpart Marty Natalegawa, ensures the problem will be the focus of the PM's visit.

At dawn today, Agrabinta police said, no other survivors had been located in addition to the 25 asylum-seekers found yesterday afternoon and evening.

It is feared as many as 40 others could have been lost in yesterday's sinking.

Search and rescue agency Basarnas was warned beforehand by the Australian Maritime Safety Authorit y of a boat carrying about 80 people in trouble in the vicinity of Agrabinta, West Java.

The emergency effort is hampered by the remoteness of the scene. A Basarnas team from Bandung, the provincial capital, travelled eight hours to reach Agrabinta early this morning.


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