The Sri Lankan Five drowned?

Five asylum seekers have drowned – not that this is immediately evident from the Media release below.

Pamela Curr, Asylum Seeker Resource Centre

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From the Minister Of Home Affairs Brendon O’Connor

MARITIME SEARCH AND RESCUE OPERATION COMPLETE

9 May 2010

Passengers from a disabled vessel that was rescued yesterday by a Russian merchant vessel, MV Postojna, have been transferred to Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

The disabled vessel was towed and arrived this morning Western Australian time.

All 59 passengers from the stricken vessel have now been taken ashore, which included eight aboard the Postojna.

Surveillance aircraft were deployed to continue searching the rescue scene following reports from rescued passengers that five passengers were missing, having left the vessel several days ago before help arrived.

Objects that may have been associated with persons missing have been identified, including lifejackets and tyre tubes. However, advice received is that the search has not uncovered any signs of life in the rescue area.

If reports about five missing passengers are correct, this is a tragic and unnecessary loss of life, and highlights that these types of voyages are extremely dangerous, Mr OConnor said.

“Unfortunately, loss of life at sea can occur when people are persuaded to embark on these poorly maintained vessels over such a great distance.

Statements will be taken from rescued passengers in the coming days to obtain further information regarding the circumstances in which other passengers may have gone missing.

The search has now been discontinued on the basis of medical advice that chances of survival were no longer a reasonable possibility.

Preliminary health checks are underway for the rescued passengers at Cocos Islands and arrangements are being made for their transfer to Christmas Island.

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