By MAMAMIA NEWS
At least 50 asylum seekers have drowned en route to Australia.
The group were off the southern coast of Java when the incident occurred. According to Indonesian officials, the boat was carrying asylum seekers from Iraq and Lebanon.
Of the 81 passengers on the boat, 35 were children. Tragically, it is believed that the majority of the dead were those under 15 years of age, who were unable to swim as the group waited for help.
Current reports are saying that the death toll is at 59.
Speaking to Fairfax, survivors have claimed that Australian naval forces knew of their exact location for 24 hours before sending help:
“I called the Australian embassy; for 24 hours we were calling them. They told us just send us the position on GPS, where are you,” one survivor, Abdullah, a man from Jordan, said.
“We did, and they told us, ‘OK, we know … where you are’. And they said, ‘We’ll come for you in two hours’.
“And we wait two hours; we wait 24 hours, and we kept calling them, ‘we don’t have food, we don’t have water for three days, we have children, just rescue us.”
There are reports that the boat came into trouble when the crew abandoned ship after receiving their payment.
The Abbott Government, who have campaigned strongly on stopping unauthorised boats, have not yet commented on the incident.