16 Apr 2010

More asylum seekers put strain on detention centre

4:36 pm on 16 April 2010

The Australian Navy has intercepted a new boatload of 80 asylum seekers near Christmas Island - which the country uses as a holding centre for asylum seekers.

Australia said last week it would no longer accept any new applicants for asylum from Afghanistan and Sri Lanka due to a sharp rise in the number of undocumented arrivals by boat recently.

The ABC reports the latest arrival puts further pressure on the overcrowded detention centre.

The boatload almost made it to the island and was intercepted on Thursday night by the navy.

Those on board are described as being of Middle Eastern appearance, but their nationality has not been confirmed.

Customs and immigration officials are now transferring the asylum seekers to shore and into detention on Friday.

The ABC reports facilities at Christmas Island are at breaking point - 135 people arrived on Thursday, while another boat is due on Saturday.

Officials say the situation is very tight, but manageable.