Disaster for 300 Potential Illegal Immigrants

23 October 2001

IBonWEB.com - Trying to reach Australia as potential illegal immigrants, around 353 people, including 70 children, died due to high seas that sunk their vessel last Friday. As reported by AFP, an Egyptian organization Abu Quassey that successfully sent two previous vessels reaching Australian territory organized suspected illegal entry vessel (SIEV) to sail to Christmas Island.

Based on the report, approximately 430 potential illegal immigrants (PIIs) departed Cipanas (South of Jakarta) and traveled to Sumatra, possibly Bandar Lampung, via Jakarta and Merak last Wednesday. The day after, Quassey informed PIIs to pack their belongings as they were departing that evening and the vessel was waiting for them.

Around one hour after departure, 420 PIIs apparently became apprehensive about the ability of the vessel to remain afloat with the numbers onboard. Their anxiety then became a disaster for PIIs. Despite the vessel's crews sought to reassure the passengers by telling them that that this was a small problem, the vessel began full of water.

On Friday, the vessel sunk completely after momentarily remaining neutrally buoyant. The majority of the PIIs drowned immediately with some 120 initial survivors. Unfortunately, the exact position of vessel at the time of sinking is unknown, but it is judged as no further south than eight degrees south latitude on a direct line from Sunda to Christmas Island.

The ten passengers who refused to board the boat on arrival is assumed remain in Southern Sumatra while the survivors have been taken by International Organization for Immigration (IOM) to accommodation in Bogor area. KM

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