3 Nov 2009

Search for survivors after sinking near Cocos Islands

7:28 am on 3 November 2009

At least one person is confirmed dead and another 11 remain missing, feared drowned, after a boat sank in the Indian Ocean on Sunday night.

The ABC reports says 27 people have been rescued since the boat sank 350 nautical miles from the Cocos Islands. It is believed the boat was carrying 39 people.

The Australian government has sent three planes to help search for the missing passengers.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority received a distress signal on Sunday morning with reports the boat had a hole in the bottom and was taking on water.

Some survivors were picked up by a Taiwanese fishing vessel that was the first to respond to the broadcast.

The liquid gas tanker LNG Pioneer from the Bahamas responded, but was 12 hours away.

Most of the survivors were taken aboard the LNG Pioneer, which continued to search for more survivors.

Australia is coordinating the rescue effort, with three planes - a Defence Force Orion, a Customs Dash 8 aircraft and a long range jet from the Royal Flying Doctor Service - being sent to assist.

The Australian Defence Force said on Monday afternoon its nearest navy ship was more than 28 hours away.

Authorities have yet to confirm if the boat was carrying asylum seekers.

The islands are about 1600 nautical miles west of Perth.