Friday, August 17, 2012
Fearing rescued asylum seekers, ship captain reroutes to Australia
A merchant ship bound for Singapore changed course for Australia this week, because the captain worried that the Indonesian asylum seekers he had rescued were dangerous and might hurt his crew, officials reported Thursday.
Before the rescue, one asylum seeker went overboard and evidently drowned. The surviving 67 are in an Australian immigration detention center, said Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare.
Clare said the 67 may be deported to tent camps in the Pacific countries of Nauru or Papua New Guinea under the new Australian law. The opposition has called for the asylum seekers, all men, to be charged with piracy for threatening the crew to reroute the vessel.
Wallenius Marine, the operator of the rescue ship MV Parsifal, reported the men were rescued 44 miles south of Java in a crowded fishing boat headed for Christmas Island, 250 miles to the south, after they made a distress call to Australian rescue officials Tuesday morning.
Having fulfilled his responsibility to rescue the asylum seekers, the captain ordered his crew to continue to Singapore, the ship's intended destination.
"When the asylum seekers on the boat found out about this, they became very aggressive and the master of the ship made the decision to turn the vessel around and head to Christmas Island," said Clare.
For more of The Miami Herald story: www.miamiherald.com
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