Asylum-seeker boat with Lankans sinks off Indonesian coast, 60 feared dead

  – සිංහල

asylum-boat     An Australia-bound boat carrying asylum seekers has sunk off the coast of Indonesia, with up to 60 people thought to be dead or missing, Australian media report. An unknown number is still missing with Indonesian search and rescue operations continuing. An officer with Indonesia’s rescue agency BASARNAS said.

The boat, carrying 170 people, encountered harsh sea conditions and simply broke, News Ltd reported on Tuesday. Rescue efforts by local fishermen have managed to save more than 100 of the passengers, mostly Iranian and Sri Lankan nationals. Local police say the death toll may not be as great as first believed.

They say there were 175 people on the boat, all of them Iranians and Sri Lankans – and they have accounted for 154 survivors, along with the two deceased and a baby, aged one, who has been taken to a hospital morgue.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has confirmed an official rescue operation, declining to comment further. “Indonesian authorities are coordinating the rescue of that incident. AMSA is not involved at this stage,” the body’s spokeswoman said.Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue (Basarnas) could not be reached for comment at the time.Immigration and refugee policy is a hot topic in Australia, especially with the election coming up in just a few weeks.

The incident comes days after Australia ruled that any refugees arriving by boat would be redirected without exception to neighboring Papua New Guinea for individual assessment before settling there. The Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has announced a set of tough new measures on Friday, which he says are aimed at curbing a steep increase in the number of refugees arriving by boat from Indonesia, which is known to be a dangerous journey. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said the government is monitoring the unfolding tragedy.

”All of our agencies are actively following this and ensuring that everything that can be done is being done,” Rudd told  reporters in Melbourne today. He said it underlined the need for a tough asylum seeker policy.

”We are seeing too many drownings, we are seeing too many sinkings, too many innocent people being lost at sea.”

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said the only way to end tragedies like this was to stop the boats from coming.

”This is a tragic reminder of what happens when policy change in Australia puts the people smugglers back in business,” he told reporters on the Gold Coast.

More than 15,000 asylum seekers have crossed over into Australian waters this year alone, sparking a policy debate and a heated exchange between the ruling Labor government and the opposition, who accuse it of being too soft on issues of border protection.

The new refugee policy has aroused fierce criticism from human rights advocates – among them Amnesty International – especially given that Australian numbers are far below what is witnessed elsewhere in the world.

ශ්‍රි ලංකාවේ හා ඉරානයේ සංක්‍රමණිකයින් රැගෙන….

ශ්‍රි ලංකාවේ හා ඉරානයේ සංක්‍රමණිකයින් රැගෙන යමින් සිටි යාත්‍රාවක් ඉන්දුනිසියාවේ ජාවා දූපත් ආසන්නයේදී අනතුරට පත්ව තිබේ. අනතුරෙන් එහි ගමන්ගත් කුඩා දරුවෙකු මියගොස් තවත් විශාල පිරිසක් අතුරුදන්ව ඇති බව විදේශ් මාධ්‍ය වාර්තා කරයි. අනතුරට පත්වන අවස්ථාවේ යාත්‍රාවේ පුද්ගලයින් සියදෙනෙකු පමණ සිටින්නට ඇතැයි විශ්වාස කරයි.

පුද්ගලයින් බේරා ගැනීමේ මෙහෙයුම් ක්‍රියාත්මක බව ඔස්ට්‍රේලියානු සමුද්‍ර ආරක්ෂණ අධිකාරිය පවසයි. සංක්‍රමණිකයින් රැගත් යාත්‍රාවෙන් හදිසියේ මතු වු දුම් වලාවත් සමඟ එය මුහුදේ ගිළී ගිය බව සඳහන් වෙයි. මෙම අනතුර සිදුවුණේ මින් ඉදිරියට බෝට්ටු මගින් තම රටට පැමිණෙන නීති විරෝධී සංක්‍රමණිකයින් ඔස්ට්‍රේලියාවට ඇතුළත් කර නොගන්නා බවට එරට අග්‍රාමාත්‍ය කෙවින් රඩ් මහතා ප්‍රකාශ කර දින කිහිපයකට පසුව ය. එරට නව දේශපාලන රැකවරණ ප්‍රතිපත්තියට අනුව නීති විරෝධි සංක්‍රමණකයින් සියලුම දෙනා පැපියා නිව් ගිනියාව වෙත පිටත් කර යවනු ඇති බව සඳහන්වෙයි.

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