Asylum seekers rescued

Source: AAP
21 November 2008

ANOTHER group of suspected asylum seekers has been rescued off northern Western Australia, the third boat to make it to Australian waters since the Rudd Government's overhaul of its mandatory detention system.

The Royal Australian Navy said the asylum seekers were rescued off Ashmore Reef late on Wednesday.

Coastwatch spotted the vessel in waters 80 nautical miles (about 150km) from Ashmore Reef while conducting routine aerial patrols.

Navy patrol boat HMAS Ararat was sent to assist, finding 12 people on board, including two suspected crew. The boat had a broken engine, a hole in the hull and was sinking fast, according to Immigration Minister Chris Evans. The group was taken on board the navy vessel and given food and water.

``As always, the health and wellbeing of the people is our primary concern,'' Senator Evans said.

The group will be taken to Christmas Island for processing. ``Although this group is yet to make its intentions clear, there is constant pressure from people smugglers in the region,'' Senator Evans said.

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