Hope is quickly fading for about 90 individuals still missing after a boat bound for Australia capsized in heavy seas south of Indonesia near Christmas Island.
Search parties from Indonesia and Australia have mobilized in order to help rescue any survivors and recover any dead bodies. Four Indonesian and Australian warships, four merchant ships and five Australian government aircrafts have been searching the seas through 7-foot waves since the vessel capsized on Thursday, reported the Associated Press.
Australia has asked for clearance to enter Indonesian waters for surveillance flights of P3 Orions,'' a spokesman for Indonesian search-and-rescue authority Basarnas, Gagah Prakoso, said, according to The Australian.
Only men were on board the ship. It is not clear where the refugees were from, but many asylum seekers attempting to reach Australia are from Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran or Sri Lanka.
An Australian navy patrol boat and three cargo ships rescued 109 survivors so far, including a 12-year-old boy. Three bodies were also recovered out of a ship that had approximately 200 asylum-seekers on board.
''Some of the very early reports suggest that up to 75 people may have drowned, but I do stress that they are unconfirmed at this stage,'' Western Australia police commissioner Karl O'Callaghan said, reported The Australian. ''There were about 200 refugees on board we think. Currently there's about 40 on the hull and the rest are in the water.
Mal Larsen, a spokesman for the Australian Maritime Rescue Authority, said that the rescuers will continue to work and find those still in the water.
The search actually continued overnight but obviously it went first light commenced this morning it picked up in pace because it is much easier to search for people in daylight, he said, according to Voice of America. And a number of aircraft and vessels have been tasked and are on the scene and are assisting authorities attempting to find survivors.
Australian Home Affairs and Justice Minister Jason Clare hopes that more survivors will be found in the waters.
The water temperature is about 29 degrees, said Clare, according to Voice of America. The sea state is sea state three, so at sea state three there is the prospect that there are people out there still alive. And over the course of 36 hours from the time the boat capsized, my advice is that people can survive out there if they've got either life jackets or they are able to hold onto debris as a lot of people did through the course of yesterday.
On late Tuesday, the boat called Australian authorities to report a distress, but could not give an exact location. The crew made another call on Wednesday. An Australian surveillance crew saw the boat, but it did not appear it was distress. However, on Thursday, the crew saw the boat capizied and immediately sprang into action.
It looks like they took proactive steps, said Clare, discussing Australian rescue authorities.All of the advice I have is that the work between Australian agencies and Indonesian agencies was very good.