Australia ship arrives at scene of boat in distress

By REUTERS
July 4, 2012 06:56

 
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AKARTA/CANBERRA - An Australian navy ship was standing ready on Wednesday to help a boat carrying up to 180 people, presumed to be asylum seekers, authorities said, the third boat to send distress signals in the past three weeks between Indonesia and Australia.

About 90 people died after a boat carrying asylum seekers sank on June 21 and around 120 were rescued after another boat sank in the same area a week later.

Those two incidents prompted Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard to suspend parliamentary business to debate Australia's laws covering the illegal arrival by boat of people seeking asylum, a subject that generates enormous public interest in Australia.

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