Sri Lanka refugee boat capsizes off Australian island: report

June 21, 2012 (LBO) – A boat believed to have 200 people from Sri Lanka has capsized of Australia’s remote Christmas Island which reports day could become one of the worst refugee disasters in the country. Australia, a country of immigrants has tightened immigration barriers in recent years and followed a controversial policy of detaining refugees.

The AFP news agency said Australian maritime authorities had received distress call from the stricken vessel at 0500 GMT when it turned turtle 120 miles off Christmas Island which is 2,600 kilometres away from the mainland.

The report quoted police as saying that about “a large number” perhaps even 75 people could have died.

An Australian cargo ship and a military vessel were at the scene helping in rescue people.

Afghan and Sri Lanka refugees have been risking their lives in rickety boats to seek asylum in Australia.

Several boats have capsized, killing many refugees.