Suspected Asylum Seekers Intercepted Off The Coast

Suspected asylum seekers intercepted off the coast

Published: April 26, 2009, 23:10

Sydney: A boat carrying 56 people has been intercepted off Australia's northern coast, the government said on Sunday.

The boatload of 54 passengers and two crew was picked up on Saturday by a naval vessel, a spokeswoman for Minister of Home Affairs Bob Debus said.

They are to be transferred to the remote Indian Ocean possession of Christmas Island, where Australia has a processing facility for asylum seekers.

It follows the detention of another boatload of 32 asylum seekers last week, who have also been transferred to Christmas Island, and an explosion earlier this month aboard another boat.

The country's asylum policy is a hot-button issue, and local media opinion polls conducted in the past week show Australians want a tougher asylum policy.