A boat carrying about 100 asylum seekers has been detected near the Australian Indian Ocean territory of Christmas Island, a few nautical miles from where two similar vessels have capsized in the last week.
Perth Now reports that the latest boat to arrive was not in distress and surprised officials because it got so close to the shore. There are unconfirmed reports that it was detected by the island’s land radar.
The news website explains that "severely limited resources" were already stretched by efforts to rescue another boat spotted on Wednesday. As a result there was no navy presence on the island and a small customs craft had to be dispatched to meet it.
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As news of the third boat came through, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority called off the search for survivors from another boat spotted on Wednesday morning, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. It says that 130 passengers from that boat were pulled from the water alive. One body was recovered and the authorities were quoted as saying it was unlikely that three others who are believed to have drowned will ever be found.
News.com.au says the passengers on board the latest vessel to be detected are not expected to be taken to shore until after the survivors from the boat which capsized yesterday are processed. It is currently moored at a cove, with the customs craft nearby.
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The Daily Mail explains that this is the third boat in a week found in Australian waters. An estimated 90 people drowned when the first one capsized last Thursday. The newspaper explains that the earlier boats were carrying Afghan asylum seekers who had used Indonesia as "a staging post" to Australia. Christmas Island is the first stop in Australian waters.
Reports of another distress signal from a fourth boat carrying asylum seekers on Wednesday night were dismissed as "a false alarm," the Sydney Morning Herald said. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority said the vessel was about 20 nautical miles off the coast of Java coast in Indonesia. It added that Indonesian authorities were dealing with the situation, and that suggestions asylum seekers were onboard were unconfirmed.