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Indonesia boat tragedy toll rises

Rescuers have recovered the bodies of two more asylum seekers who were aboard a boat that sank off Indonesia, bringing the death toll to 11, police have said.

The bodies of a five-year-old Sri Lankan girl and a 30-year-old Iranian man were found near Karangpotong beach, about nine miles south of where their overcrowded tugboat sank on Tuesday night off the coast of West Java.

Nearly 190 survivors were brought to safety, and hundreds of rescuers and fishermen are continuing to search for others, he added.

Officials have said the group was believed to consist of around 204 migrants from Sri Lanka, Iran and Iraq who were bound for Australia.

They left on a smaller boat that started leaking before meeting a larger ship at sea that was supposed to complete their journey.

The incident occurred less than a week after Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd changed the country's refugee policy so that migrants who arrive by boat will no longer be allowed to settle there.

Instead, they will be taken to the island nation of Papua New Guinea to be considered for resettlement there.

The sharp policy change, which has angered human rights groups, comes amid domestic political pressure following a string of deadly accidents involving rickety boats packed with asylum seekers who take the risky journey from Indonesia to Australia.


From Belfast Telegraph