27 Jun 2012

Asylum seeker boat capsizes, 1 confirmed dead

7:59 pm on 27 June 2012

Australian authorities have confirmed one person has died after another asylum seeker boat capsized in the Indian Ocean north of Christmas Island, with more than 130 people onboard.

It is believed the boat's passengers were women and children from Afghanistan.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority says 125 people are believed to have been rescued.

Two Australian navy ships and an Australian air force Orion are at the scene.

The incident follows the sinking of another boat in the same area in the Indian Ocean last Thursday, in which 90 people are thought to have died.

The capsize has catalysed the political debate around Australia's asylum seeker policy, with the federal Parliament debating a bill on offshore processing of asylum seekers.

Ms Gillard says she will immediately bring on a bill from the independent MP Rob Oakeshott to allow the Malaysia solution, involving asylum seekers to be exchanged for genuine refugees, to go ahead.