Lankan boat reaches Australia

Two groups including sixteen Sri Lankan asylum seekers reached Christmas Island in Australia today after a long journey at sea, The Australian reported.

It is believed the Sri Lankan group began its journey before Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s July 19 announcement that people arriving by boat without a visa have no hope of being settled in Australia.

Authorities’ initial belief was that the Sri Lankans – including two little girls and a baby – travelled from their home country in the fishing vessel they arrived in, which can take a month.

They were brought ashore a few hours before the Australian Customs Vessel Triton delivered another group of asylum seekers who asked for help on their way from Indonesia to Christmas Island, a shorter but treacherous journey of around 192nm from the closest ports in West Java.

The second group of about 120 appeared to be mainly adult males. They were being taken into detention at about 4pm local time (7pm AEST).

Since Rudd announced Australia will no longer settle any asylum seeker arriving by boat, 22 boats carrying more than 1600 people have arrived at the Australian territories of Christmas and Cocos islands or been intercepted or rescued trying to reach Australia.

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