Merchant ships to help boat

The Navy says merchant ships at sea off the southern coast have been asked to assist a boat stranded with suspected asylum seekers onboard.
Navy spokesman Kosala Warnakulasuriya said that the navy had received information about the boat and they had directed ships in the vicinity to assist the boat as it would take time for navy boats to reach the area.
The boat with at least 70 people is reported to have gone missing after it left Mirissa and was heading to Australia last week.
The boat with mostly Tamils had left on July 17th and is believed to have faced engine trouble halfway through the journey, our reporter in the area said.
The attempt to reach Australia by boat came despite the announcement that under a new agreement reached between Australia and Papua New Guinea (PNG), asylum seekers who travel to Australia by boat without a visa will never be settled in Australia but in Papua New Guinea.
Under the new arrangement signed with Papua New Guinea unauthorised arrivals will be sent to Papua New Guinea for assessment and if found to be a refugee will be settled there.
Regional processing arrangements in Papua New Guinea will be significantly expanded and people will be sent to Manus Island as soon as health checks are complete and appropriate accommodation is identified. (Colombo Gazette)