41 asylum seekers sailing from Sri Lanka and hoping to make Australia their home almost ended up at the bottom of the sea instead.
If not for the efforts of Australian pilots and the Sri Lankan Navy, they might well have become the first of a new wave of deaths as people smugglers appear to be gearing up for a new attempt at breaching Australia’s borders.
The 41 asylum seekers were sailing from Sri Lanka to Australia 10 days ago when their vessel started to sink in the Indian Ocean.
An Australian surveillance aircraft assisted members of the Sri Lankan Navy to rescue those on board.
Operation Sovereign Borders boss Craig Furini, who is in Sri Lanka with Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, praised the country’s navy for pulling off the rescue.
‘This highlights the very real danger of attempting these journeys,’ Major General Furini told The Australian.
‘Before (Operation Sovereign Borders) started in 2013 more than 1200 drowned at sea attempting such journeys at sea. Since Operation Sovereign Borders began, there has been none.’
It is the second vessel to attempt to reach Australia in the past month, and the third since March.
Several other boats are believed to have been detected in recent weeks.
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The Australian Tribune with AAP