Boat carrying 61 undocumented
immigrants sinks off Cilacap
1AM Australian Eastern Time 31 July, 2013
A boat carrying 61 undocumented immigrants en route to Christmas Island in Australia underwent engine failure and stranded off Cilacap waters in Central Java on Tuesday.
The boat’s passengers were rescued by a Liberian tanker at Tanjung Intan Port in Cilacap.
Cilacap’s National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) coordinator Tri Joko Priyono said 13 women and nine children out of the 61 passengers had been rescued from the boat.
“But we haven’t questioned them. We need to find the right time to do that,” Tri said, adding that judging from their language and physical characteristics, they might have come from the Middle East.
Cilacap Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Wawan Muliawan said that the police were currently questioning the boat’s captain, an Indonesian and other crew members.
On June 17, as many as 101 asylum seekers from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Vietnam also were also stranded off Cilacap waters after their boat experienced engine failure.
On July 25, via phone call, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono discussed people-smuggling related issues with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
The phone call was made only two days after a boat carrying more than 200 asylum seekers en route to Christmas Island — mostly from Iran, Iraq and Sri Lanka — capsized in Indonesian waters near Cianjur, West Java. People smuggling has become a critical issue between the two countries. (hrl/dic)