More Asylum Seekers Caught Off WA Coast

More asylum seekers caught off WA coast
16th December 2008, 11:30 WST

BREAKING NEWS EXCLUSIVE: The Australian Navy has intercepted another boatload of asylum seekers in Australian waters.

Minister for Home Affairs Bob Debus confirmed the boat had been intercepted by the Royal Australian Navy patrol boat HMAS Bathurst about 110 nautical miles east of Darwin.

The vessel had been spotted earlier by a Customs surveillance aircraft.

Mr Debus said it was believed there were 37 people on board.

“The group will now be transferred to Christmas island where they will be detained and processed,” he said.

“The nationalities and intentions of the people on board are yet to be determined and no significant health issues have been identified at this stage.”

Defence sources told The West Australian the vessel was detected by Coastwatch aircraft last night and was intercepted by a Navy vessel this morning.

It is the seventh boat of asylum seekers to be intercepted in Australian waters since September.

A fortnight ago, the Federal Government said the recent influx of asylum seekers was down to good weather and unrest in the Middle East.

This latest load of boat people could force the Government to open the new 400-bed detention camp on Christmas Island built by the Howard Government.