Sri Lankan migrants intercepted off Indonesia

BANDA ACEH, May 14, 2009 (AFP) – Fifty-five Sri Lankan migrants were intercepted Thursday off the coast of western Indonesia as they tried to reach Australia to look for work, police said. Fishermen found the migrants, men aged from 25 to 30, aboard a damaged wooden boat two kilometres (just over a mile) from the coast of Aceh province, Sumatra island, at about 6:00 am (2300 GMT Wednesday), police said.

“They were actually trying to reach Australia to find jobs,” senior police officer Ari Subijanto said.

He said the Sri Lankans had informed police one of their fellow migrants had gone missing during the journey.

Another boat full of Sri Lankans was still at sea and heading to Australia.

The group left Sri Lanka on May 2 and stopped in Malaysia on May 8.

Indonesia is a major transit point for illegal migrants and asylum seekers trying to make their way to Australia, often in unseaworthy boats with few provisions.