A boat carrying about 200 people capsized south of Indonesia and scores were feared drowned yesterday in an apparent attempt to reach Australia to seek asylum. Indonesian and Australian navies launched efforts to rescue survivors.
An Australian navy patrol boat and three cargo ships had rescued 110 survivors by late yesterday and were taking them 200 kilometres (120 miles) south to the Australian territory of Christmas Island, Australian Maritime Safety Authority spokeswoman Jo Meehan said.
She declined to comment on any bodies discovered. She said the patrol boat would return to the scene of the sinking to continue the search for survivors through the night.
The boat capsized about halfway between Christmas Island and Indonesia, Meehan said.
It was not immediately clear where the passengers were from.
Christmas Island, in the Indian Ocean, is closer to Indonesia than the Australian mainland. It is a popular target for a growing number of asylum seekers, many from Iran, Afghanistan, and Sri Lanka, who attempt to reach Australia on overcrowded fishing boats from Indonesia, sometimes with deadly consequences.