Asylum seekers safe in Indonesia

Indonesian authorities say a group of about 50 asylum seekers are safe, after being rescued from a boat which had run into trouble in waters south of Java as it made its way to Australia.


An official with Indonesia’s national search and rescue agency Basarnas said late on Wednesday evening that all of those who had been aboard the boat, including at least five children, had been brought to shore.

“We’re still gathering information about where they are all from, but all are safe,” the official said.

There had been earlier reports that at least some of the asylum seekers had entered the water as a rescue operation was mounted off the coast near the district of Bayah.

It’s understood the boat issued a distress call at about 11.30am local time (3.30pm AEDT) after having engine and steering problems.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison late on Wednesday confirmed the incident, but added that no Australian authorities were involved in the rescue.

“We understand the incident occurred in close proximity to the Indonesian coast and Indonesian authorities are coordinating a search and rescue response,” Mr Morrison said in a statement on Wednesday evening.

“We understand there are reportedly 50 people on board the vessel and reports indicate some people have entered the water and that local fishermen are and have been assisting.”

The incident on Wednesday comes less than a week after another asylum-seeker boat was the subject of a search and rescue operation, and later a stand-off between Canberra and Jakarta about where the passengers should be offloaded.

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