With a sad familiarity, another overloaded boat, filled with desperate asylum seekers trying to reach Australia’s Christmas Island, has capsized in Indonesian waters. Up to 200 people are believed to have been aboard the vessel when it capsized. Indonesia’s search and rescue authority BASARNAS is coordinating the search with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA). West Australian Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan has been quoted as saying that said about 40 people were spotted on the upturned hull, others were in the water and up to 75 others may be dead. ”We have grave fears for the remainder,” he said.
The current capsize with a probable signification loss of life is, sadly, nothing new. In December of 2010 an estimated 50 refugees died when their boat struck the rocks off Christmas Island’s Flying Fish Cove. In December of 2011, more than 200 refugees went missing and were presumed dead when their boat bound for Christmas Island sank off Indonesia. In April of this year, 129 Afghan refugees were rescued from a sinking ship also bound for Christmas Island.
Christmas Island is a territory of Australia in the Indian Ocean. It is 2,600 kilometres (1,600 mi) northwest of the Western Australian city of Perth, 360 km (220 mi) south of the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, 975 km (606 mi) ENE of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, and 2,748 km (1,708 mi) west of the Territorian city of Darwin. Australia operates an Immigration Reception and Processing Centre on the island.