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Refugee boat capsizes off Australia, infant dead, 8 others missing

July 13, 2013 at 2:55 PM   |   Comments

SYDNEY, July 13 (UPI) -- A boat carrying nearly 100 asylum seekers capsized off Australia's Christmas Island, leaving a baby dead and eight people missing, authorities said.

Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare said 97 people from Iran, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka were aboard the vessel, which officials surmised had set sail from Indonesia and ran into trouble about 78 nautical miles north of the island Friday, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

"Last night, our officers rescued 88 people and they've recovered the body of a little baby boy," Clare said.

Clare said two navy patrol boats, a merchant vessel, an air force plane and two other aircraft were sent to the area after Australian Federal Police received a phone call about 11:15 a.m. Friday "from a man in Melbourne, who said that he'd received a call on his mobile phone from a person on a vessel saying that the vessel was in trouble."

"Information from the caller suggested that the vessel was disabled, it was taking on water, and that there were over 90 people on board," he said.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said the maritime mishap underscores the need for Australia to adjust its border protection policies, ABC reported.

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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