Death Toll Rises to 8 from Refugee Boat Sinking off Java

By MarEx 2011-11-02 10:39:02

Search and rescue teams have uncovered the body of a 6-year-old boy, setting the death toll at 8 individuals after a wooden vessel carrying up to 70 people capsized off of Indonesia’s island of Java in attempts to seek refuge in Australia, police report.

Marine police deputy chief, Syamsudin Sudiana, disclosed that of the 70 onboard, 47 Iranians, Pakistanians, and Afghans were rescued after the boat sank off the coast of the Ciamis district.  Of the 8 deceased, 7 were women, including 2 children.  He added that were more survivors, but they fled in fears of intervention from government officials.  Other reports from Aljazeera indicate that these 20-some missing individuals might be dead and undiscovered, but it is not known for sure about the status of the remaining passengers.

The refugee-packed boat was bound for the East Nusa Tenggara province, a stepping stone between Indonesia and Australia.  Indonesia has a history for being a point of transit for migrants leaving countries in the Middle East and poverty-stricken areas of Asia who are seeking to make a better life in Australia.  It is not uncommon that people die in accidents, as they usually pursue the journeys on subpar vessels with the help of “people smugglers”.

Despite efforts from Indonesia and Australia to discourage the voyage to migrants, over the past year, more than 100 boats carrying refugees have reached the shores of Australia, introducing an estimated 5,000 people who have been detained to await the decision on Australian visa applications.