Lankan boat people killed

10 May 2010 02:26 am - 19     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Australian authorities today said that five Sri Lankan asylum seekers are presumed dead after their boat went missing last week. The ‘Australian’ website said that a search and rescue operation for the missing Sri Lankans has been called off.

The men were traveling on an asylum boat carrying more than 60 people, including about 15 children, which was foundering 160 nautical miles west of the Cocos Islands.

On Wednesday, Customs and Border Protection Command alerted the Australian Maritime Safety Authority that the boat, which Customs had been tracking, was missing.

An RAAF P3 Orion, a Border Protection Command Dash-8 and a rescue Dornier aircraft scoured a 33,000-square-nautical-mile search zone, about 270km northwest of the Cocos Islands.

The following evening, the boat was found drifting, its engine disabled. Four merchant vessels in the vicinity were sent to its aid and eight of the boat's passengers were taken aboard a Russian bulk carrier, the MV Postojna. The rest stayed on the boat as a ship towed it to the Cocos Islands. Asylum-seekers told the crew that three days earlier, five male passengers had donned life jackets and jumped overboard in an apparent attempt to swim for help.

A search-and-rescue operation began the next day but failed to find the men. However, a spokeswoman for Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor said items that "may have been associated with the persons missing" - life jackets and tyre tubes - had been found.

The spokeswoman said yesterday the search had been called off.

"The search has now been discontinued on the basis of medical advice that chances of survival were no longer a reasonable possibility."

Mr O'Connor said the "tragic" incident underscored the folly of trying to travel so far to Australia in poorly maintained boats.

The asylum-seekers' boat was yesterday towed to the Cocos Islands, from where its passengers will be flown to Christmas Island.

Authorities were last night preparing to interview the 59 remaining passengers in an attempt to identity the missing men and explore what happened.

The location of the incident suggests they sailed directly from Sri Lanka. Thursday's rescue was not the first time the boat had received assistance. The same Russian ship gave those on board food, fuel and water after Customs made contact with the vessel on April 30.

A spokeswoman for Mr O'Connor said at that time the boat had been judged seaworthy, the Australian reported.

  Comments - 19

  • Monday, 10 May 2010 04:37 AM

    What risks they take to creep into first world countries only, via the back door. Dont blame Sri Lanka for the follies of these economic refugees who are in possession of large amounts of money which they can easily afford to pay the people smugglers.

    Monday, 10 May 2010 04:54 AM

    It's simple local boy..... If you risk your life for betterment, ..aim for the best country in the world. ...Not for Parripu

    Monday, 10 May 2010 04:57 AM

    Imagine the sense of relief when they set off on that boat, and how their dreams and hopes must come to life again, How can we hope to attract people to our country when we can't even hold onto the ones who are already here.

    Monday, 10 May 2010 05:30 AM

    Local Boy: where did you read in the news item that these people were Tamils?

    Monday, 10 May 2010 05:40 AM

    They are LTTE supporters looking for greener pastures. I have no sympathy for them!

    Monday, 10 May 2010 05:43 AM

    Its not about betterment. you can make a better place for you even in India. Why go all the way to Australia. Why not Malaysia or even Singapore? This nation is Indeed a Miracle of Asia. The tourist arrivals have increased by 50% over the last year. Go to the villages and see the development.... Dont just stay in Colombo and complain. Open your eyes and see. This is why the villages endorsed this government. Because they have seen.

    Monday, 10 May 2010 06:26 AM

    no where sir, just a common sense !

    Monday, 10 May 2010 06:32 AM

    Hello Sam, stop judging innocent tamil who are trying escape. if they are LTTE supporters you are a sinhalese terrorists supporter

    Monday, 10 May 2010 07:06 AM

    Perhaps they travel all the way to Australia is because they welcome asylum seekers with open hands.

    Monday, 10 May 2010 07:27 AM

    Any decent human would like to get out of SL, because it's not a place to live a normal human life.

    Monday, 10 May 2010 03:19 AM

    What risks they take to escape from the so called "Miracle of Asia"

    Tuesday, 11 May 2010 01:51 AM

    Please do not come to Australia to ruin our reputatuion
    There are the people who supported Tigers. These are the people who worked for (Make shift)Tiger government. But did not last long. I remember how they tried to tax me for my apples, when I was travelling to Jaffna.
    Good if they leave SL, they can get rid of terrorists, not good for Aust, they may start Aust.Elam for tiger terrorist.
    You have dug your own grave. SUFFER...................

    Monday, 10 May 2010 03:57 AM

    'Calistus Jayatilleke' why do not they go to India? just a few Km away from here? TN speaking same Lan? Why take such a risk? Mr. above slogan is just a promise made by president. you've got to wait and see for next six years.

    Monday, 10 May 2010 03:59 AM

    Very sad. Please look in to this in human point of view rather than going to the extent of politics.

    Monday, 10 May 2010 10:45 AM

    There is no different in policy to discriminate Jaffna Tamils, between TN and SL governments.

    Monday, 10 May 2010 04:02 AM

    there are NO genuine Sri Lankan refugees. they are all bogus 'economic refugees'

    Monday, 10 May 2010 04:07 AM

    Srilanka is a nature's paradise. There is no doubt on it. It has everything other than peace.
    The question arise's why still people (mainly Tamils) are trying to escape from Srilanka?
    One year back LTTE has been defeated by Srilankan government but until today there is not a single step taken by the government to resolve the ethnic conflict.
    For Tamils it looks like Srilanaka has gone back to 1950's, that is the time when the ethnic conflict started.
    Yes if there is no solution found, definitely there will be another ethnic war starting

    Monday, 10 May 2010 04:14 AM

    If anyone is trying to escape from Srilanka facing this dangerous way, our Government should know there are some problems in our mother land to solve immediately. Otherwise we can't make so called "Miracle of Asia".

    Monday, 10 May 2010 04:14 AM

    This is very unfortunate incident.i myself am an Australian Citizen.My citizenship has been granted against my off shore research contributions.In terms of standard of living Australia, it is neither a heaven nor exceptional from rest of the world..Satisfaction in life is purely based on your mental set up.- in other words based on your expectations in life.Situation is like caught in between the deep sea and the devil.But here there is no real threat for Tamils in Lanka after the post war except from their own Tamil politicians.


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