26 Dec 2010

Another asylum seeker boat intercepted

10:57 am on 26 December 2010

The Australian government says a boat with 57 suspected asylum seekers on board was intercepted by the Navy east of Ashmore Island on Saturday morning.

The Department of Home Affairs says HMAS Maitland spotted the boat early on Christmas Day.

The boat was being taken to Christmas Island for security, identity and health checks of the passengers.

The Opposition says the boat shows people smugglers do not take the holidays off.

Opposition spokesman on border protection Michael Keenan says stronger policies are needed to deter people smugglers.

The ABC reports three other boats have been intercepted since the shipwreck on Christmas Island that claimed up to 50 lives on 15 December.

HMAS Glenelg intercepted the latest vessel north-east of Christmas Island on Tuesday. It was carrying 68 passengers and two crew.

A day earlier 55 asylum seekers from a boat found at Ashmore Reef on December 15 were unloaded onto Christmas Island.

Also on Monday, a third boat carrying asylum seekers was intercepted on Ashmore Reef with 56 passengers and four crew onboard.