13 migrants rescued from capsized boat
Members of a search team prepare to look for victims of a capsized boat.Indonesian rescuers found 13 people alive yesterday 100 kilometers from where a boat capsized, raising hopes of more survivors among 200 missing asylum seekers who were en route to Australia.
The migrants were said to include Pakistanis, Iraqis, Turks and Saudis. They said they had paid agents between $2,500 and $5,000 to seek asylum in Australia and claimed their U.N. documentation papers were lost at sea.
“We are still trying to establish if they were victims of the capsized migrant boat Dec. 17.” an official Kelik Purwanto told Agence France-Presse. The fiberglass vessel had a capacity of 100 but was carrying about 250 migrants when it sank. Fishermen plucked 34 survivors from shark-infested waters six hours after the boat capsized and were taken to Blitar city on Dec. 18 for identification by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), officials said. More than 200 people are still unaccounted for.
Rescuers had held out little hope of finding more survivors in bad weather and high seas, calling it the “largest loss of life.” Thousands of asylum-seekers head through Southeast Asian countries on their way to Australia every year and many link up with people-smugglers in Indonesia for the dangerous voyage on ramshackle boats.