48 may have died in boat crash off Australia

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
December 20, 2010 05:34

SYDNEY— The number of asylum seekers believed killed when their boat smashed into rocky cliffs along an Australian island rose to 48 on Monday, as the prime minister warned that those still missing may never be found.

Thirty bodies have been recovered since a rickety boat packed with Iraqi, Iranian and Kurdish asylum seekers smashed into the rocks on Christmas Island last week and broke apart in stormy seas. Forty-two people were rescued from the churning surf, but officials believe many more were swept away in the strong currents, or sank to the ocean floor.

Rescue workers have been interviewing survivors to help determine exactly how many people were on board so they can clarify how many are still missing.

On Monday, Prime Minister Julia Gillard said it appears about 90 asylum seekers were on the boat, based on the latest information from the Australian Federal Police.


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