Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Incident aboard asylum seekers' boat -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

Reporter: Alexandra Kirk

PETER CAVE: The Federal Government says there's been a serious incident on board a boat intercepted
off Australia's north-west coast yesterday. The World Today has been told that three people are
dead, two are missing and more than 40 are injured.

The Navy intercepted a boat at Ashmore Island yesterday, and was taking the 49 people on board to
Christmas Island.

We're joined in Canberra, by Alexandra Kirk.

Alex, what can you tell us?

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The Minister for Home Affairs, Bob Debus, has just released a brief statement, in
which he says, 'Border protection agencies have reported', presumably to the Government, 'that
there has been an explosion or serious fire on board the vessel', that is, the boat that was being
taken to Christmas Island.

The Government says that there are reports from personnel on the scene, that the incident has
resulted in fatalities, serious injuries, and that a number of occupants of the vessel are missing.
So no numbers there.

But we understand that the Darwin and Broome hospitals, and also the Royal Flying Doctor Service
have been put on high alert; that Darwin Hospital is expecting to receive victims from what they
describe as an explosion; that the hospital's early understanding of the scale of the casualties is
46 people hurt, three dead and two missing. And also, that the Kimberley police confirmed the
figures on the missing and dead.

Now, the question is what, the Government hasn't released any more information. The Government said
yesterday that the indications were there were 49 people on board the intercepted boat, so there
are some queries about the number of people involved, and the number of people that have been hurt...

PETER CAVE: Are there suggestions that all the casualties are amongst the people on the boat, not
amongst those who boarded it?

ALEXANDRA KIRK: There haven't been any indications from the Government. But there seems to be
conflicting advice. I've been told that there were, there'd been no injuries to Australian
personnel. But there's another report that says Australian Navy personnel could be injured. So the
numbers just don't add up at the moment. There is some queries about whether any Australians are
involved or not.

PETER CAVE: There have been suggestions in some reports that this was the result of an explosion in
the engine room. Has that been confirmed?

ALEXANDRA KIRK: No, that hasn't been confirmed. All the Government is saying is that there is a
report of either an explosion, or serious fire on board. They're saying that the two navy patrol
boats in the area, the HMAS Childers and HMAS Albany, are currently on the scene to provide
assistance.

Now the problem is, that Ashmore Reef is located in the Timor Sea, about 400 kilometres from the
mainland, 840 kilometres west of Darwin, and another 610 kilometres north of Broome. And one source
has told us that if the Navy took on board the people from the boat, it could take up to 24 hours,
if conditions were good, to sail into Darwin. So you can see the scale of the problem that's
unfolding.

PETER CAVE: Now Alex, this is the second boat in the last couple of days, isn't it?

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Yes, four in a week, and eight boats so far this year.

PETER CAVE: Alexandra Kirk reporting live there from Parliament House and of course we'll cross
back to that story as soon as we have more information.