SYDNEY - A boatload of asylum-seekers intercepted in Australian waters on Sunday will be the first sent to Malaysia under a controversial new swap deal, Australian officials said.
The boat was spotted by aircraft near Scott Reef, off Australia's northwest coast, Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor said in a statement. A spokeswoman told Reuters it was the first boat intercepted since the deal with Malaysia was signed on July 25.
"The passengers will be taken to Christmas Island for pre-transfer assessments, pending removal to Malaysia," O'Connor said in the statement.
The boat is thought to be carrying 54 asylum-seekers and two crew members.