Death toll rises to 11 asylum seekers who drowned when boat sank off Indonesia

  • Updated: July 25, 2013 - 1:05 AM

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Rescuers have recovered the bodies of two more asylum seekers who were aboard a boat that sank off Indonesia, bringing the death toll to 11, police said Thursday.

The bodies of a 5-year-old Sri Lankan girl and a 30-year-old Iranian man were found near Karangpotong beach early Thursday, about 15 kilometers (9 miles) south of where their overcrowded tugboat sank Tuesday night off the coast of West Java, said Cianjur police spokesman Capt. Ahmad Suprijatna.

Nearly 190 survivors were brought to safety, and hundreds of rescuers and fishermen were continuing to search for others, he added.

Officials have said the group was believed to consist of around 204 migrants from Sri Lanka, Iran and Iraq who were bound for Australia. They left on a smaller boat that started leaking before meeting a larger ship at sea that was supposed to complete their journey.

The incident occurred less than a week after Prime Minister Kevin Rudd changed Australia's refugee policy so that migrants who arrive by boat will no longer be allowed to settle in the country. Instead, they will be taken to the island nation of Papua New Guinea to be considered for resettlement there.

The sharp policy change, which has angered human rights groups, comes amid domestic political pressure following a string of deadly accidents involving rickety boats packed with asylum seekers who take the risky journey from Indonesia to Australia.

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