UK & World News
Dozens Feared Dead After Boat Capsizes
A boat thought to have been carrying 200 asylum seekers has capsized off Australia's remote Christmas Island, with police saying scores could have died.
An Australian navy vessel and a cargo ship have rescued 73 survivors, the ABC reports, quoting the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (Amsa).
The ship issued a distress call about 3pm (5am GMT) and capsized about 2,600 kilometres (1,600 miles) from the Australian mainland, but in in Indonesian waters.
Western Australia police commissioner Karl O'Callaghan said a "large number" were feared to have perished.
"Some of the very early reports suggest that up to 75 people may have drowned, but I do stress that they are unconfirmed at this stage," Mr O'Callaghan told reporters.
"We are very concerned for a large number of people who may have drowned," he said.
"We know from what we've been hearing from the aircraft that there's not 200 life jackets on board."
A defence aircraft dropped life-rafts which could hold 60 people, Amsa said.
"We can also confirm that survivors are wearing life jackets," an Amsa spokeswoman said.
It was not immediately clear where the passengers were from.
Though they come in relatively small numbers by global standards, asylum seekers are a sensitive political issue in Australia, dominating 2010 elections due to a record 6,555 arrivals.
Indonesia is a common transit point for those trying to reach Christmas Island, which is closer to Java than mainland Australia.
Many of the overloaded, rickety vessels do not reach their destination.
In December, a boat carrying around 250 mostly Afghan and Iranian asylum-seekers sank in Indonesian waters on its way to Christmas Island, with only 47 surviving.
Some 50 refugees were killed in a shipwreck on the remote island's cliffs in December 2010 when their leaky wooden vessel was dashed on the rocks.
Fifteen were children aged 10 years or younger, with one a baby just three-months-old.