Fishos told to leave asylum boat alone
June 14th, 2013
A FISHERMAN said he thought children would drown after government authorities told them to abandon a stranded asylum seeker boat far out to sea in rough swells.
"I could see little kids' hands waving through the open window," deck hand Mark O'Dwyer said in Darwin today.
"There is going to be more than kids overboard, if it had of been there at night... we could have crashed right through them... they were f**ked mate."
Mr O'Dwyer was out on a trap boat when the crew spotted the overloaded asylum vessel about 130-160 nautical miles off the NT coast, in an area called the Timor Box, on June 3.
About a dozen men were sitting on the roof of the boat.
Mr O'Dwyer said he knew there were children on board because he could see their hands gripping the edge of the cabin windows.
"I have no idea how many people there were but there were too many," he said, adding he feared without fuel the boat would flip in the large swell.
"You need to have diesel so you can power on into the swell - or with it - to stop the roll of the boat.
"If the boat hits waves sideways it will capsize."
Mr O'Dwyer said as the fishing crew was trying to get diesel, food and water to the boat, authorities told them not to help and leave the area.
But the closest Navy or Customs vessel was still more than a day away.
The office of Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare issued a statement two days later advising that a vessel carrying 79 people was intercepted north-west of Darwin on June 4.
It is not known if this was the same vessel.
The NT News is waiting for a response from Mr Clare.
Mr O'Dwyer said he did not know what happened to the asylum vessel.
"I was just so tired mate, I didn't have time to analyse it until I got back to land," he said, adding he did not think it was right that authorities told the fishos not to render aid.
"They are human beings in our water."
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