10 Jun 2013

Search for surviving boat people now over

9:14 am on 10 June 2013

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority has called off a search for survivors from a sunken asylum seeker boat.

No survivors from the boat have been found despite a large air and sea search, involving up to three vessels and five aircraft over three days.

Thirteen bodies and debris have been sighted from a boat, the hull of which was seen submerged on Friday, 65 nautical miles north-west of Christmas Island.

The boat, which was first spotted on Wednesday, is thought to have had about 55 people on board.

Australian Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare said on Sunday the bodies were still to be recovered.

"This is another terrible tragedy. Another terrible reminder how dangerous these journeys are," Mr Clare said.

He foreshadowed a full review of the incidents after the operation is complete.

"We want to stop people getting here on boats," he said.

Other boats

As the tragedy unfolded, the ABC reports HMAS Warramunga was called away to help another asylum seeker boat which reported engine trouble north of Christmas Island. The boat has been located and all on board are safe.

In recent weeks there has been a spike in the number of boats coming to Australia.

A British merchant vessel which rescued 78 asylum seekers from another stricken vessel, arrived at Christmas Island on Sunday.

The boat ran into trouble several hundred nautical miles west of Cocos Island on Thursday.

The ABC reports two other asylum seeker boats, carrying almost 200 people have been intercepted since Friday.