HMAS Wollongong intercepts asylum seeker boat

Updated November 5 2012 - 8:26pm, first published April 22 2009 - 6:42am
HMAS Wollongong
HMAS Wollongong

Another boat carrying asylum seekers has been intercepted off the coast of Australia and is being escorted to Christmas Island.Thirty-two men from Sri Lanka are believed to be on board the vessel, which entered Australia's migration zone just after 12.30pm AEST today, Home Affairs Minister Bob Debus said.HMAS Wollongong intercepted the boat about 47 nautical miles south-west of Barrow Island in an operation co-ordinated by Border Protection Command. "The people on board will be transported to Christmas Island and as I speak to you now I am told that the boat is secure and the operation is proceeding very successfully," Mr Debus said.It is the seventh boat of asylum seekers to arrive in Australian waters this year, and follows a fatal explosion on board an asylum seeker vessel last week.Five people were killed out of the 47 Afghans and two crew on board that vessel.The fatal explosion has revived political debate over asylum seekers and Australia's border protection.Mr Debus said a plane spotted the latest boat within the past 24 hours. It had been kept under surveillance from the air and it was intercepted as soon as it entered Australia's migration zone.Mr Debus said he was unsure when the asylum seekers would arrive at Christmas Island for processing. "The people on board are believed to be Sri Lankan. They are all males,'' he said. "The arrangements to transfer the people to Christmas Island are not yet known to me. "But relatively soon arrangements will be made and another vessel will take the occupants of this illegal entry boat to Christmas Island.''

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