88 people rescued in Australia refugee boat sinking

Featured Oceania - July 15th, 2013

Australian authorities scoured rough seas for survivors after a people-smuggling boat carrying nearly 100 capsized on the weekend.

Rescuers pulled 88 people from the water and found a body of a baby in remote seas off Christmas Island, between Australia and Indonesia, where the ill-fated boat was believed to have sailed from.

Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare said the boat first issued a distress call north of Christmas Island Friday morning.

Before rescuers could reach the boat, a huge wave broke over it and went down. Two navy patrols and a merchant vessel combed the seas, along with a military aircraft and two maritime rescue planes, AFP reports.

There were 97 people on board, including passengers from Iran, Afghanistan,and Sri Lanka, Clare said.

Hundreds of asylum-seekers have drowned on the dangerous sea voyage from Indonesia when their decrepit, overcrowded boats sank.

More than 13,000 refugees have arrived in Australia by boat since the start of the year, putting pressure on the ruling Labor party on how to best tackle the issue, according to AFP.