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Burns specialists mobilised after boat blast -

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Burns specialists mobilised after boat blast

Broadcast: 16/04/2009

Reporter: Leigh Sales

ABC reporter Joanna Menagh is in Broome with the latest on the asylum seeker situation.


LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: And we're joined now by ABC reporter Joanna Menagh in Broome.

Joanna, what's the latest information you have there?

JOANNA MENAGH: Well, the latest is all those that have been injured have been taken off the oil
platform and have arrived at Truscott air base where they've been given emergency treatment and
assessed, and they've now been decided to which hospitals where they'll be going, whether it be in
Perth, Darwin, or here in Broome.

Now, as I understand it, there's one jet that will be carrying the seriously injured passengers.
That will be flying to Perth and should arrive in the early hours of tomorrow morning. There's also
one jet going to Darwin that's carrying five patients, as well as one plane with three patients on
board that is coming to Broome.

Now that follows, just a short time ago, a team of specialists, medical doctors from Perth -
doctors and nurses, who are here to treat the burns patients when they arrive. They are also
bringing with them the medical equipment that will be needed to treat them. That plane is due in
here in about an hour or so's time and they'll be taken straight to Broome hospital for treatment.

LEIGH SALES: Joanna, the West Australian Premier Colin Barnett walked into a little bit of
controversy today when he claimed that some of the people on the boat may have deliberately doused
it with petrol. Have we learned anything more about whether that's accurate or not?

JOANNA MENAGH: Well, late this afternoon, the Premier issued a statement if you like clarifying
what you said. Now, in this statement, he said that information about the pouring of the petrol was
provided to him by the State's emergency operations unit, and he said that information was relayed
to the unit by the northern command. Now he highlighted comments that have been made by the Home
Affairs Minister Bob Debus, in which he said it was clearly a possibility that that is what
occurred, although he wouldn't confirm it.

Colin Barnett also said he understood that further investigations had to take place and that he
understood that the Federal Government will provide details in due course. But certainly that
statement wasn't backing away from his claims, that the asylum seekers poured petrol on the boat,
and that's what caused the explosion. So certainly Colin Barnett's going to find out in the next
few days whether he's got himself into some trouble here. It will be interesting to see what

LEIGH SALES: OK. What do we expect is going to happen tomorrow in terms of the investigation and
also presumably survivors who haven't required hospitalisation?

JOANNA MENAGH: Well, the survivors who didn't, who weren't taken from the oil platform stayed with
the navy and the oil platform, and they're going to be taken by the navy to Darwin, I imagine, for
processing. Of course, there's going to be a major investigation into what happened and that's
likely to involve the Northern Territory police, the West Australian police, and the Federal

There's probably likely to be a coroner's investigation into what happened as well. But of course
that's a long way off yet. I imagine the survivors, especially those who are seriously injured;
it's going to take some time before they can be interviwed. There's also going to be the people who
arrive in Darwin, I imagine authorities will want to interview them as soon as possible. So
obviously it's a long way, yet, off as we're going to find out exactly what happened. But certainly
a major investigation will take place.

LEIGH SALES: OK, Joanna Menagh, the ABC's reporter in Broome, thank you very much.