News24

Bodies found after migrant boat sinks

2011-12-21 09:05

Jakarta - Indonesian fishermen have reported finding bodies four days after a boat carrying Australia-bound migrants sank off Java, an official said on Wednesday.

Forty-nine people have been rescued after Saturday's disaster off the coast of Prigi in East Java. Up to 200 migrants, most of whom came from Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan, were still missing.

"We've received reports from local fishermen that they have found bodies believed to be those of victims of the boat accident," said the head of the provincial disaster management agency, Siswanto, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.

 Some of the bodies were found off the coast of Banyuwangi near Bali island, he said, adding that the information was still being verified.

Survivors told rescuers that there was little safety equipment on the fibreglass boat, which was designed to carry 100 people but had about 250 on board at the time of the accident.

Passengers and crew members fought for about 25 life jackets as the ship began to sink after being hit by strong waves, they said.

The accident was the worst tragedy involving asylum seekers in a decade after 353 people died when their boat sank between Indonesia and Australia in October 2001.