Sydney, Aug 30 – Australian rescuers plucked 16 more people from the ocean Thursday after a refugee boat sunk in Indonesia’s Sunda Strait with 150 people on board, officials said, taking the number of survivors to 22.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said spotter aircraft had made a “number of sightings of survivors” and “the HMAS Maitland, which was the nearest vessel, has recovered 16 people.”
Six other survivors were rescued earlier Thursday by a cargo ship.
AMSA said there were three merchant ships in the area assisting with the search and the focus through to Friday would be “on recovering survivors.”
The missing boat had been en route to Australia, which is facing a steady influx of asylum-seekers, many of whom pay people-smugglers in Indonesia for passage on leaky wooden vessels after fleeing their home countries.