54 asylum seekers rescued from boat off Australian coast

54 asylum seekers rescue

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September 20, 2009 17:06

 
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Australian border protection officials rescued 54 asylum seekers on Sunday from a boat stranded in northern waters, the home affairs minister said. It was the sixth boatload of asylum seekers that entered Australian waters in the last two weeks, an influx that has stoked political debate over the country's relaxed immigration policies. Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor said the passengers, some dehydrated and seasick, were rescued by a border protection boat. The vessel was spotted by aircraft the previous day about 1,015 kilometers north of the Cocos-Keeling Islands in the Indian Ocean. Water and food were dropped to the boat by an air force plane, and a merchant vessel, as part of its safety-of-life-at-sea obligations, stayed overnight with the distressed boat, O'Connor said in a statement. He did not say what was wrong with the vessel.

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