[DEBATE] : Explosion on asylum seekers' boat - Afghans near Aus
Riaz K Tayob
riaz.tayob at gmail.com
Thu Apr 16 08:55:25 BST 2009
Explosion on asylum seekers' boat
Three people have been killed by an explosion on a boat carrying asylum
seekers, Australian police have said.
The boat was carrying 49 Afghan asylum seekers, and was on its way to a
Two people from the boat are missing and staff at a Darwin hospital said
several more were injured.
The vessel, the sixth to approach Australia since January, was being
escorted by the navy to the detention centre on Christmas Island.
"The vessel was being escorted to Christmas Island so that safety and
health checks could be done," Home Affairs Minister Bob Debus said in a
"Border protection agencies have reported that there has been an
explosion or serious fire on board this vessel.
"There are reports from personnel on the scene that this incident has
resulted in fatalities, serious injuries and that a number of occupants
of the vessel are missing," he said.
Six boats carrying more than 250 illegal entrants have been intercepted
off or landed on Australia's coast since January.
The opposition says this "surge" is the fault of what it calls a
softening of the country's immigration policy since Kevin Rudd became
prime minister in late 2007.
The number of asylum seekers intercepted in all of 2008 was 179.
The Rudd government scrapped the widely criticised policy of his
predecessor John Howard under which asylum seekers and their children
were detained for years in special centres in Nauru or Papua New Guinea
under the so-called "Pacific Solution".
Asylum-seekers now arriving by boat are held on Christmas Island, but
their claims must be expedited, with six-monthly case reviews by an
ombudsman now government policy.
The BBC's Sydney correspondent Nick Bryant says the Australian
government is worried about the rise of people-smuggling from or through
the waters of Indonesia.
Earlier this week Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith told a
people-smuggling conference in Bali that the tide of boat people might
increase because of the fighting in Sri Lanka and Afghanistan and the
global economic downturn.
The Indonesian government has promised to push through new laws enabling
the criminal prosecution of people smugglers. But these have not yet
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2009/04/16 04:08:15 GMT
© BBC MMIX
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