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Rescue bid for 200 on capsize boat

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Australian rescuers are searching for survivors after a boat carrying asylum seekers capsized

Australian rescuers are searching for survivors after a boat carrying asylum seekers capsized

Australian rescuers are searching for survivors after a boat carrying asylum seekers capsized

Rescuers are trying to reach up to 200 asylum seekers after a boat capsized in Indonesian waters, officials say.

The Australian Customs Service said in a statement "up to 200 people could be on board" the boat, which capsized today about 200 kilometres (120 miles) north of the Australian Indian Ocean territory of Christmas Island.

The people on board were apparently trying to reach Australia to seek asylum, officials said.

The boat was about 200 kms from the southern coast of Indonesia.

Gagah Prakoso, a spokesman for Indonesia's Search and Rescue Agency, said two Indonesian warships have been dispatched to scene.

He said the boat was reportedly carrying 206 people, but added that he could not yet say their country of origin or from where they departed.

"We have sent two warships but given the high waves and weather, I am not sure they could reach the area today," he said.

Australian aircraft and navy ships were helping with the rescue, the Customs statement said.

They include a defence aircraft equipped with life rafts, a Customs surveillance aircraft and two navy patrol boats.

www.customs.gov.au/(Australian Customs Service)

PA