19 Dec 2010

No hope held for missing asylum seekers

5:52 am on 19 December 2010

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority has formally acknowledged that there is no longer any hope of finding more survivors from the Christmas Island boat disaster.

Up to 100 people were thrown into the water on Wednesday when a boat carrying asylum seekers was crushed against the rocky coast, broke apart and sank.

Forty-two people survived.

Many of those who died were from Iraq. The ABC reports the survivors may have to help identify the dead.

State law in Western Australian requires that bodies be identified in person rather than from a photograph.

Federal Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor says that means survivors

may be required to view the bodies.

Divers recovered two bodies on Thursday, but only wreckage has been found since then.

The search has been hampered by strong currents which have carried the debris some distance away.

The ABC reports the strong currents mean anyone still in the water may be some distance from the scene and may never be found.

The AMSA says it formally ended the search for survivors on Saturday night.

Australian Federal Police will continue to use divers in around Rocky Point where the boat was shipwrecked.

A Customs ship, the Triton, has also been searching deep water offshore.

Memorial services will be held in detention centres on the island on Sunday and Monday.