Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

27 Drown as Refugee Vessel Hits Rocks

Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

27 Drown as Refugee Vessel Hits Rocks

Article excerpt

AT least 27 suspected asylum seekers died yesterday when their boat smashed against jagged rocks on Christmas Island, off the north-west coast of Australia.

A statement from Customs last night said 41 survivors had been recovered from the water and one person made it to the shore.

Acting Prime Minister Wayne Swan said it was not clear if more bodies would be found in the wake of what he described as "a tragic event".

"The rescue and recovery effort has been and is ongoing. That will, I guess, cease at sunset and we'll have to evaluate the position overnight," Mr Swan said.

"It's obviously been very traumatising for the local community and, of course, tragic for so many people on the boat."

The boat, reportedly carrying up to 70 asylum seekers including women and children, struck the cliffs off Christmas Island about 6.30am.

A spokeswoman for the Royal Flying Doctor Service said a plane was sent to the island with two medical teams to retrieve three of the survivors and transfer them to Perth. …

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