22 Apr 2009

Australian navy intercepts more asylum seekers

7:17 pm on 22 April 2009

Another boatload of asylum seekers has been intercepted off the West Australian coast and is being taken to Christmas Island, the government said on Wednesday.

Navy vessel HMAS Wollongong intercepted the vessel about 47 nautical miles southwest of Barrow Island in an operation coordinated by Border Protection Command.

Home Affairs Minister Bob Debus said the 32 people on board were all Sri Lankan men.

It is the seventh boat of asylum seekers to arrive in Australian waters this year and comes after a vessel carrying 47 asylum seekers and two crew sank following an explosion off the north Australian coast last week.

An investigation into the cause of the blast, which killed five people and injured many more, is under way.

Mr Debus said the latest interception demonstrated the government's commitment to strong border protection.

"The Australian government is committed to strong border security arrangements to deal effectively and appropriately with people smugglers," he said.