20 Oct 2009

Another boat of asylum seekers intercepted by Australia

9:05 am on 20 October 2009

Australia and Indonesia are deciding where the safest place is to send a group of asylum seekers taken aboard an Australian customs ship.

The navy made contact with the boat which was in distress on Monday afternoon.

Customs says five women and five children were among the 78 people on the Oceanic Viking, which is now off the west coast of Sumatra.

Another group of 222 Tamil asylum seekers remain in their boat in the port city of Merak in western Java.

Many are refusing to leave, saying they want refuge in a western country.

The ABC reports the Oceanic Viking was asked to pick them up by HMAS Armidale after the boat the asylum seekers were on, got into difficulty in international waters.

They are still in Indonesia's search and rescue zone while the federal government decides whether to send them to Christmas Island or Indonesia.

The ABC PM programme has been told that sending them to Indonesia would set a precedent and could breach Australia's international obligations.