By MAMAMIA TEAM
Yet another vessel carrying asylum seekers is suspected to have capsized en route to Australia, and up to 13 people are dead and 55 missing. This is the timeline of events so far:
Last week, a vessel carrying around 70 asylum seekers disappeared off Christmas Island.
On Friday, an alarm was reportedly raised with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority by Customs – approximately 12 hours after debris had been spotted floating in the water.
And then yesterday, 9 bodies were found. The numbers have risen steadily since.
The boat disappeared on Thursday, northwest of Christmas Island, and a search involving Navy boats and RAAF planes failed to find any sign of the ship or its passengers.
Finally, on Friday night a plane saw what they suspected to be a body in a lifejacket floating in the water. When merchant ships arrived, they found debris in the water.
After the alarm had been raised, a spokesperson for Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare said on Saturday afternoon, “Border Protection Command assets are currently conducting a search approximately 65 nautical miles northwest of Christmas Island for a possible foundered vessel.”
The search is continuing, with Border Protection planes and a private aircraft scanning the waters, and the HMAS Warramunga as well as two merchant ships involved.
The incident has provoked continued criticism of Australia’s response to boats in distress.
Fairfax reported that former Australian diplomat Tony Kevin “asked why there was an almost 46-hour lag from the time the boat, with up to 60 people on board, was reported ‘overdue’ on its journey from Indonesia and the mounting of a search-and-rescue operation.”