Update: People Smuggling Accident off Java Leaves 150+ Missing (VIDEO)

By MarEx 2011-12-19 14:41:04

Over 150 people are missing after a boat carrying approximately 250 migrants seeking asylum in Australia sank in the waters off East Java on Saturday night. 

UPDATE:  AP reports that 15 more people have been rescued, growing the number of survivors to 49, and anywhere from 150-200 are still missing.  AP also spoke to survivors who said the ship went down after a 15-foot wave slammed into the fiberglass fishing ship.

The 200-250 migrants, mostly from Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan, were aboard a 100-person-capacity vessel reportedly owned by an Indonesian fisherman who leased it to smugglers to make the journey to Australia.  This practice of “people smuggling” is not uncommon to the area, with thousands of migrants attempting to make the journey to Australia from Indonesia yearly.  A voyage of this size, however, is not so common. 

As of 7am AEDT Monday, only 34 survivors have been confirmed, leaving the fate of more than 150 unknown, including as many as 40 children.  The survivors were taken to an immigration facility in the town of Blitar near the capital of East Java.

Search and rescue teams are patrolling the area looking for the missing  individuals.

Watch the video below to learn more about the tragic sinking.