26 Apr 2009

Australian navy interceps another asylum seeker boat

10:02 am on 26 April 2009

Another boatload of asylum seekers, believed to be carrying 54 passengers and two crew, has been intercepted off Australia's northwest coast.

The vessel was intercepted on Saturday, 90 nautical miles southwest of Ashmore Island, before it could make it to Australian waters.

Those on the boat voluntarily transferred to the Royal Australian Navy patrol boat HMAS Albany, the Australian government says, and are being taken to Christmas Island.

There, they will undergo health, security and other checks to establish their identity and reasons for their voyage, the government statement says.

It is the eighth boat of asylum seekers to approach Australian waters this year.

The interception came as another boatload of asylum seekers was transferred to Christmas Island. That boat, carrying 32 Sri Lankan men, was intercepted near Barrow Island, off the West Australian coast, on Wednesday.

On April 16, a vessel carrying 47 asylum seekers and two crew exploded, killing five Afghans and injuring dozens of others.