11 Jun 2013

No retrieval of dead boat people

5:59 am on 11 June 2013

Australian Customs officials have decided not to retrieve the bodies of at least 55 asylum seekers presumed to have drowned last week.

The Australian Maritime and Safety Authority abandoned a search for survivors on Sunday night after the hull of a sunken asylum boat was sighted on Thursday.

A three-day air and sea search of the area, 65 nautical miles north-west of Christmas Island, failed to find any survivors.

A total of 13 bodies have been spotted in the water near where the boat went down.

Customs said on Monday that recovery of the dead was not its priority as its vessels and aircraft are involved in a range of other operations.