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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Asylum boat presses on despite distress call

An asylum seeker boat that sent out a distress signal is ignoring safety advice and continuing its voyage to Australia, despite being buffeted by heavy seas south of Indonesia.

The Australian Search and Rescue Authority (AMSA) received a distress call from the boat at 4:30am (AEST) when it was about 50 nautical miles off the coast.

Australia has sent Navy ships and surveillance planes to monitor the boat, which is believed to be carrying up to 180 asylum seekers.

Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare says the boat is upright and is not showing outward signs of distress.

It is also travelling towards Christmas Island despite being told by Australian and Indonesia authorities to head back to the closest port.

"Initial advice that we received this morning was that the vessel had heeded that advice and was heading north back towards Indonesia," Mr Clare said.

"That has proven through the course of the day to be not correct." Read More