Migrant boat capsizes off Australia's Christmas Island


Iranian asylum seekers sit on a boat at Benoa port in Denpasar on Indonesia's island of Bali on May 12, 2013.



A boat carrying some 150 asylum seekers capsized off Australia's Christmas Island on Tuesday.

According to BBC News, the Australian border agency said four bodies had been found and 144 people rescued by two navy ships 70 nautical miles from the shore of Christmas Island, located about 1,600 miles north-west of mainland Australia.

The boat had earlier made a distress call and was being escorted to Christmas Island by navy ship HMAS Albany when it tipped over due to bad weather, throwing many people into the water.

A Royal Australian Air Force plane dropped a number of life rafts to those in trouble and the two navy ships were able to pull 144 of the migrants from the water. Reports said few people on board the boat were wearing lifejackets at the time of the accident.

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Hundreds of asylum seekers have drowned on their way to Australia in recent years due to rickety and overloaded boats sinking in the sea. 

In a separate incident on Saturday, 88 migrants reportedly seeking asylum from Iran, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka were rescued when their boat also sank off Christmas Island. A baby boy died in the accident and eight other people were missing and presumed dead.

More than 13,000 asylum seekers have arrived in Australia by boat so far this year.