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March 26, 2013

Asylum seekers die when vessel goes down north of Australia

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

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A young boy was pronounced dead Monday after the refugee boat he was on was hit by large waves and overturned in high seas north of Christmas Island, an Australian offshore territory. Customs officers rescued 93 asylum seekers; those pulled from the sea are predominantly of Afghan decent, or from neighbouring countries. Christmas Island houses the Immigration Detention Centre, which provides temporary accommodation facilities for asylum seekers.

The officers pulled two bodies from the sea, one being young boy, said to be aged four or five, the other of a woman in her thirties. When the boat overturned, the people on board were rescued by the nearby customs boat Ocean Protector.

When asked, Prime Minister Julia Gillard said: “Too many people have lost their lives getting on these very dangerous boats,” describing this incident as “a dreadful tragedy”.

In addition to the two dead, another young boy and a pregnant woman were left in a critical condition after the accident. The remainder of the refugees seeking asylum only sustain minor injuries.

Those rescued are now facing the likelihood they will be processed in Nauru, or on Papua New Guinea‘s Manus Island, under the Australian Federal Government’s offshore processing programme.



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