5 Mar 2004

Group of suspected asylum seekers found off northern coast of Western Australia

9:41 am on 5 March 2004

Australian immigration officials are interviewing a group of 15 suspected asylum seekers after they were discovered on Ashmore reef off Western Australia's north coast.

The six men and nine women were aboard the fourth illegal boat to arrive in Australia in the past three years.

Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone said the Customs vessel Dame Roma Mitchell was in attendance at Ashmore Reef, which has three small, uninhabited islands.

There was no sign of their boat and no information on whether the 15 were claiming asylum.