Hopes fade after migrant boat sinking
(CNN) — Hope appeared to fade Monday for finding more survivors from a boat that sank off the coast of Indonesia over the weekend.
At least 218 people, and possibly as many as 248, were on board, said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman of the National Disaster Management Agency.While 36 people were rescued, the remainder of those on board were missing and feared dead, he said.
The boat’s capacity was about 100 people, he said. It was a traditional wooden boat, about two stories high.
Rescue operations were continuing.
The boat was headed to the Australian territory of Christmas Island when it went down, said Dody Sapiawin, a duty officer at Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency.
Disaster management officials said most of those on board were asylum-seekers from Middle Eastern countries, including Iran and Afghanistan. Two children were among those rescued, according to Sugeng, an official from the East Java Disaster Management Agency who like many Indonesians uses only one name. Interviewing the survivors has been difficult, as they are distraught and in shock, he said.
Australian authorities were assisting in the search and have sent aircraft and a patrol boat to help.
Christmas Island is an Australian territory in the Indian Ocean, nearer to the Philippines than to Australia. The island is about 1,600 miles northwest of the western Australian city of Perth and 220 miles south of the Indonesian capital, Jakarta.
Australia’s government has come under fire in the past for what some perceive as a soft border protection policy that encourages asylum-seekers to flee to Australia. Most of those aboard the ship were Indonesians.
In December 2010, a boat carrying as many as 90 asylum-seekers crashed into the cliffs along Christmas Island, killing at least 48 people.
CNN’s Aliza Kassim and Kathy Quiano contributed to this report.