Australia launched a massive search and rescue operations for 150 asylum seekers aboard a boat after it went missing.
According to reports, the boat, carrying women and children, issued a distress signal off the coast of Indonesia. Australia’s home affairs minister Jason Clare said that six people were rescued from the Sunda Strait on Thursday morning but Clare says he “fears for a lot more”.
The rescue operations comes after the Australian parliament passed a new legislation aimed at detering asylum seekers amid rising death tolls from the dangerous journey. The law will enable deportation to processing centers in Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island and Nauru.
The influx of more than 7,000 asylum seekers poses a challenge on regulating entry, opening detention camps and ensuring safety. Asylum seekers from Indonesia board rickety boats en route to Christmas Island. About 300 asylum seekers have drowned since December, according to the Financial Times. People smugglers also taught asylum seekers to issue “distress calls” so the Navy can get them.