18 Jan 2006

Missing Papuan boat found off Australia - report

6:36 pm on 18 January 2006

Australia's coastwatch has found a boat which went missing with more than 40 passengers after it had left Indonesia's Papua province, reportedly bound for Australia.

Initial reports say the vessel has been spotted off Cape York, three days after it was reported missing.

Australian government officials are on their way to the vessel to meet it.

The Australia West Papua Association says the boat was carrying people who left for security reasons as a campaign against Indonesian rule of the Melanesian province continues.

Any application for possible asylum can only be submitted to the Australian authorities if they reach the Australian mainland.

Australia operates a detention centre in Nauru to process people intercepted at sea while trying to reach Australia illegally.