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Inquest into death of asylum seekers resumes -

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ELEANOR HALL: An inquest into the deaths of five Afghan asylum seekers has heard more evidence from
members of the Defence Force this morning.

The five men died in an explosion on their boat near Ashmore Reef last April.

The boat had been intercepted by the Australian Navy, which has already faced criticism for its

This morning, the inquest has been hearing evidence from another of the Defence Force members who
was on the boat at the time of the explosion.

Sara Everingham is at the inquest in Darwin and joins us now.

So, Sara, what's the inquest heard so far from this ADF member?

SARA EVERINGHAM: Well, this morning, we've heard from Petty Officer Thomas Dawe. He was on the
boat, as it's called the SIEV 36, when it exploded.

While he was giving evidence, we were shown a video of the SIEV 36 a short while before the blast
and he and another officer can be seen trying to remove a lighter from one of the 49 people on

They go to the front of the boat and they struggle with the man. Officer Dawe said the man actively
resisted him and the other officer and that the man had to be tackled. He said, a short time later,
a high threat had been called to HMAS Childers and then the boat exploded and he had to jump into
the water to try and escape the flames.

ELEANOR HALL: So did he say that he was concerned the man was going to use the lighter to set off
an explosion?

SARA EVERINGHAM: Well, what we've heard is that officers could smell petrol on the boat. One
officer on Monday said that the stench of petrol before the explosion was so strong that it was
stinging his eyes.

Dawe talked about, Officer Dawe talked about what happened when he got on the boat and he said when
he got on he saw a pump that used unleaded petrol. He was asked whether he thought about where the
supplies of that petrol might be held and he said, "No".

He was asked whether he was told to do a thorough search of the boat and he said, "No". He said he
thought he might do that but it wasn't actually part of his role, he hadn't been ordered to do

But we have heard on Monday, the counsel assisting the Coroner, Stephen Walsh QC, said that the
evidence will show that the explosion might have been deliberate, that the people on the boat might
have deliberately ignited the petrol vapours and that they feared they were going to be taken back
to Indonesia.

ELEANOR HALL: And there was some very emotional evidence given yesterday. Was there any follow up
on that today?

SARA EVERINGHAM: Well, yesterday we heard from Corporal Sharon Jager. She was also on the SIEV 36
at the time of the explosion. She was in fact blown into the sea by the blast.

She talked about how she was struggling to swim under the weight of all the gear. Her life jacket
wasn't working. She was desperately trying to get on the Navy's rescue boat. Two other asylum
seekers were also trying, two asylum seekers were also trying to do that. She said they were
competing for the same space.

It's the Navy's policy to rescue ADF personnel first and we heard, she said that the driver of the
boat got up and actually used his foot, physically moved, removed the asylum seekers from that boat
so that he could rescue her.

We will hear from the driver of that boat later on in this inquest. There are still a number of ADF
personnel to give evidence.

ELEANOR HALL: Sara Everingham at the inquest in Darwin. Thank you.