Atlanta 6/22/2012 3:06:13 AM
News / World

Refugee Boat Capsizes Off Christmas Island, Dozens Feared Dead

Rescue teams from Australia and Indonesia are searching the waters off Christmas Island for dozens of Sri Lankan refugees who were stranded in the ocean after their boat capsized Thursday. The accident happened about 120 nautical miles north of the Christmas Island.

About 200 asylum seekers were believed to be on board the boat. "We never know the exact number of people onboard as they get onboard illegally," said a spokesman for Indonesia's Search and Rescue Agency.

At least 110 people have been rescued so far. The survivors were wearing life jackets. Australian police commissioner Karl O’Callaghan said about 75 people are believed to be dead. "Some of the very early reports suggest that up to 75 people may have drowned, but I do stress that they are unconfirmed at this stage," he said. "We are very concerned for a large number of people who may have drowned. We know from what we've been hearing from the aircraft that there's not 200 life jackets on board."

Australian aircraft and ships are in the area assisting Indonesian war ships in the search and rescue operation.


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