Australia says two die in boat sinking off Indonesia

Australia says two die in boat sinking off Indonesia
Rescuers assist asylum-seekers who survived the sinking of a boat heading for Australia

SYDNEY - At least two people died when an asylum-seeker boat sank off the Indonesian island of Java and 30 people were rescued, Australia's Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said Tuesday.

Hundreds of asylum-seekers attempting to reach Australia by boat have died in their attempts to make the sea voyage in recent years, and Morrison said the sinking highlighted the dangers of people-smuggling.

Morrison said Australian authorities received information from Jakarta that at about 11:30pm on Monday (1230 GMT) 30 people were rescued from a sunken vessel in Indonesian waters some 75 nautical miles off West Java.

"There have been reports of three deceased persons, however this has not yet been confirmed through our (diplomatic) post," Morrison told parliament. "Our post has advised of two deaths and several persons being in a critical condition."

According to media reports the wooden fishing boat was hit by big waves which broke up the boat, killing two men - one from Myanmar and another from Bangladesh.

The reports said a toddler had also perished in the sinking - the third death alluded to by Morrison.

The immigration minister said no request was or had been made for Australian assistance, by either passengers onboard the vessel or the Indonesian authorities involved in the rescue.

"This further loss of life is as tragic as all those that preceded it in similar circumstances, and we extend sympathies to the families of those affected," Morrison said.

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