Survivor of fatal boat capsize off Java says asylum seekers left without lifejackets

7 October 2013

An asylum seeker whose wife and eight children died when their boat sank off the coast of Indonesia last month says passengers were left without lifejackets to face death.

At least 31 people died when the boat, which was en route to Australia, got into trouble and broke into pieces just 50 metres from Java's shore.

Hussein Khodor was among 18 Lebanese survivors who returned home on Sunday.

"If we had had lifejackets, maybe no one would have died," he told local media after reaching his village in northern Lebanon.

"They lied to us, they told us it would be a big ship with seats and there will be food and everything. They lied."

More than 30 of the 80 asylum seekers who were on board are still missing.

At least 52 of them were Lebanese, including children, most of them trying to escape poverty in deprived villages in the northern district of Akkar.

"If we had a [caring] government we wouldn't have done this and tried to leave," Mr Khodor said.

Lebanese officials and family members greeted the emotional survivors at the airport. A section of the boat's hull washed up on the south coast of west Java. Photo: A section of the boat's hull washed up on the south coast of west Java. (ABC News: George Roberts)

"This should be a lesson to our Lebanese government so it gives special attention to the deprived areas," said Hadi Hobeich, a member of parliament.

In the wake of the tragedy other survivors said the boat started taking water after experiencing engine trouble, forcing them to turn back to Indonesia.

Eventually, the motor pumping water off the boat ran out of petrol. The boat then hit rough seas and capsized.

Survivors also said Indonesian soldiers helped ferry them to the coast where the doomed boat was waiting.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison rejected survivors' claims that Australian authorities took more than 24 hours to respond.


Back to