Two more dead after boat capsize

A barge delivers some of those rescued to Christmas Island.
Photo / Getty Images
A barge delivers some of those rescued to Christmas Island. Photo / Getty Images

Rescuers yesterday found two more bodies from a capsized asylum seeker boat, bringing the death toll to five, but 90 passengers are still unaccounted for.

More than 100 people have been rescued since the overcrowded vessel capsized on Thursday afternoon about halfway between the Indonesian island of Java and Christmas Island.

Poor weather hampered yesterday's search, which was to resume at first light today, but Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said it was unlikely that any more survivors would be found.

Three aircraft and one boat continued the search overnight but no bodies or survivors were found. Australian Maritime Safety Authority representative Jo Meehan said they were "still in that period of survivability".

"We are operating under conditions that include the water temperature, the weather, the fact that we know there were life jackets on board, rafts and debris," Meehan said.

"We are operating on the basis that they will be able to survive for two days."

Most of the survivors were taken to Christmas Island on Friday, where three men were treated at hospital.

The tragedy prompted Liberal MP Mal Washer to call on Opposition leader Tony Abbott to consider supporting Labor's Malaysia Solution to prevent more asylum-seeker deaths at sea. Albanese also pushed for a speedy resolution on asylum-seeker policy.

Labor's plan to process asylum seekers arriving by boat in Malaysia was stalled last year, because it did not get the Opposition approval it needed.

Abbott said the coalition was willing to discuss the political impasse on asylum seekers but he wouldn't budge on new legislation. Nor did he want to politicise the tragedy.

- AAP

- Herald on Sunday

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