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    Morrison denies refugees in trouble

    June 29, 2014

    The Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has refused to confirm claims by refugee activists that a boat carrying Tamil asylum seekers off the coast of Christmas Island is in trouble.


    Refugee activists said the 21m boat carrying 153 asylum seekers, which left from India, had sprung an oil leak and was 250km from Christmas Island, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

     

    Mr Morrison said there were no significant incidents at sea to report.‘‘I am advised that I have no such report to provide to you today,’’ he told reporters in Melbourne.

     

    The refugees' vessel, a 72-foot blue hulled fishing boat, is said to be carrying 37 children and 32 women. According to refugee advocate Ian Rintoul, it has a leak in the oil pipe supplying the engine. “They are only travelling very slowly, about 100km a day,” he said. “They are very anxious, and they aren’t sure they will be able to make it to Christmas Island without assistance.”

     

    “What we are concerned about is that the Australian government will try to get a commercial boat from the area to try to pick them up,” said Rintoul. “They did that in the Indian ocean last year, but that boat was much further away from Australia than this one. They need assistance now, before it becomes an emergency.”

     

    Last night Mr Abbott dismissed questions from the ABC about the boat, saying "we will be doing what we normally do in respect of Operation Sovereign Borders".

     

    He would not say whether assistance would be sent to the vessel.

     

    (KH/ST)

    Last modified on Sunday, 29 June 2014 08:48

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