Boat capsizes near Australian island; 150 aboard

  • Tue Jun 26th, 2012 10:10pm
  • News

Associated Press

CANBERRA, Australia — A boat carrying up to 150 people trying to claim asylum in Australia capsized Wednesday in the Indian Ocean within a week of the drownings of more than 90 people on a similar journey.

Two merchant ships have collected survivors from the capsizing north of the Australian territory of Christmas Island, Australian Maritime Safety Authority spokeswoman Jo Meehan said. She could not say how many survivors there were.

Two Australian warships and a military aircraft would join the search by late Wednesday, she said.

The area is 200 kilometers (120 miles) north of the island. The boat capsized in Indonesia’s search and rescue zone but Australian authorities had raised the alarm, Meehan said.

The first merchant ship reached the scene more than two hours later, she said.

Last Thursday, 110 people were rescued when a boat carrying more than 200 mostly Afghan asylum seekers capsized in the same area.

Australia is a common destination for boats carrying asylum seekers from Afghanistan, Iraq, Sri Lanka and other poor or war-torn countries.

isays survivors are being rescued by a merchant ship

The Australian government says it is responding to Wednesday’s report of a vessel in distress around sland.

The government says that according to initial reports, up to 150 people may be on board.

More than 90 people are assumed drowned after another asylum seeker boat carrying more than 200 people capsized in the same area on Thursday last week.