AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER SENDING A SPECIAL ENVOY TO SRI LANKA AS 12 TAMIL ASYLUM SEEKERS ARE FEARED DROWNED NEAR COCOS ISLAND
Posted on November 3rd, 2009

By Walter Jayawardhana

The Australian confirmed that at least 12 people who are feared dead in the vessel that sank off Cocos Islands close to Australia are Tamil asylum seekers who were trying to avoid Indonesia and Malaysia for fear of being detained on their way to Australia.

One dead body has been found and the eleven others missing are feared dead, the reports indicated.

Prime Minister Rudd of Australia said that he had already spoken to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and sending a special envoy to Sri Lanka to discuss about Tamil people who are coming to Australia as asylum seekers.

A SEARCH was under way yesterday for at least 11 Sri Lankan asylum seekers missing in the Indian Ocean after their boat sank while heading for Australia.

Search aircraft and ships were combing an area about 330 nautical miles north-west of the Cocos Islands, where the vessel sank.

In a sign of the difficulty the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, faces over the asylum seekers, he said he would send one of the nation’s top diplomats, John McCarthy, to work with Sri Lanka on the matter, THE Australian said.

An Australia-bound tanker, LNG Pioneer, and a Taiwanese fishing boat, FV Kuamg, had picked up 27 survivors and one body by last night.

But as nightfall approached, the drama was still unfolding. The crew of an RAAF P-3 Orion patrol plane spotted two more survivors in the water and dropped a liferaft to them. Three others were seen clinging to debris and trying to propel it towards the raft.

The Sri Lankans had been in the water for more than 14 hours when they were picked up by the Taiwanese fishing boat, the Australian said.

A SEARCH was under way last night for at least 11 Sri Lankan asylum seekers missing in the Indian Ocean after their boat sank while heading for Australia.

Search aircraft and ships were combing an area about 330 nautical miles north-west of the Cocos Islands, where the vessel sank.

In a sign of the difficulty the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, faces over the asylum seekers, he said he would send one of the nation’s top diplomats, John McCarthy, to work with Sri Lanka on the matter.

An Australia-bound tanker, LNG Pioneer, and a Taiwanese fishing boat, FV Kuamg, had picked up 27 survivors and one body by last night.

But as nightfall approached, the drama was still unfolding. The crew of an RAAF P-3 Orion patrol plane spotted two more survivors in the water and dropped a liferaft to them. Three others were seen clinging to debris and trying to propel it towards the raft.

The Sri Lankans had been in the water for more than 14 hours when they were picked up by the Taiwanese fishing boat.

The boat is different from the Indonesian ship where 78 Tamils are refusing to get off the ship and step on the Indonesian soil. They insist they lived in Indonesia for many years and only want to go to Australia.

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