17 Dec 2010

Australian PM defends shipwreck rescue operation

7:34 am on 17 December 2010

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard is defending the time it took for authorities to respond to the fatal Christmas Island shipwreck.

The death toll has risen to 30 with the recovery on Thursday of the bodies of a man in his 20s and a boy.

The Australian Federal government has said up to 100 passengers were on board the wooden Indonesian fishing boat which smashed into rocks at Christmas Island on Wednesday morning.

Forty-two people survived. The passengers were believed to be mostly from Iraq and Iran.

Australian customs officials released a timeline showing it took just over an hour for inflatable rescue boats to arrive at the site, from the time border protection officials were first notified.

Ms Gillard says border protection authorities got rescuers to the crash site as quickly as possible, in what were extreme weather conditions.