Abbott Govt Left Asylum Seekers to Drown
The incoming Abbott Government has been accused of leaving asylum seekers to drown after it failed to respond to desperate pleas from the sinking vessel.
Survivors from the the vessel that sank off Indonesia claim their desperate pleas to Australian authorities for help were ignored as their vessel foundered in heavy seas.
The death toll from the tragedy was on Saturday expected to surpass 50, with 30 or so people still missing.
Indonesian authorities say that at least 21 people, including seven children, drowned when the boat, which was believed to be carrying about 80 passengers, sank on Friday off the coast of Java.
Only 28 of the boat’s 81 passengers have been found alive, leaving more than 50 dead or missing. Indonesian authorities say they have little hope of finding more.
One survivor, Abdullah, from Jordan, said: ”I called the Australian embassy. For 24 hours we were calling them. They told us just send us the position on GPS, where are you. We did, and they told us: ‘OK, we know … where you are.’ And they said: ‘We’ll come for you in two hours.’
“We waited 24 hours, and we kept calling them – ‘We don’t have food, we don’t have water for three days, we have children, just rescue us.’ And nobody come.”
As the bodies were washing ashore in Indonesia, Prime Minister Tony Abbott refused to be drawn into the unfolding tragedy, ignoring questions from the media on Saturday afternoon, instead preferring to congratulate the Hawks for winning the AFL grand final.
However, as the extent of the tragedy became clear, thanks to reports from the Indonesian authorities and leaks from within the ranks of the Coalition government itself, Minister for Immigration Scott Morrison was forced to break his own media blackout to defend the government’s role in the debacle.
“Suggestions Australian authorities did not respond to this incident appropriately are absolutely and totally wrong,” the minister’s statement said.
However he acknowledged that Australian authorities did receive a phone call about the vessel on Friday morning.
It appears that no action by the Australian government was taken at that time.
Morrison is due to issue a statement today.
He has previously refused to disclose the tactical operations of the military in dealing with asylum seekers at sea.
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