17 April 2009
People illegally emigrating to Australia killed in boat blast
People found to be emigrating to Australia illegally have been caught in an explosion on the vessel, reports ABC News.
The 47 people emigrating to Australia from Afghanistan had their boat ruined and sunk by an explosion, which killed at least three people and injured many others. Two people are still missing.
The casualties have been taken to the Truscott Air Base in Western Australia's far north, where some will be transported to Darwin, Broome and Perth hospitals for further treatment.
"The main people who have been put on standby are our burns unit and we've obviously, the hospitals are [ready] obviously to start receiving patients, including ICU patients," said Western Australian Health Department's Andrew Robertson.
Opposition spokeswoman Sharman Stone has said the Government's "soft" approach to asylum seekers emigrating to Australia without securing an Australian visa through the appropriate channels.
"Since August last year when Minister Evans, Minister for Immigration, announced the changed Commonwealth policy, we've seen the people smuggling back in business," she said on ABC TV's Lateline.
The Federal Government is trying not to comment on the incident, saying that it is unclear whether the explosion was accidental or a purposeful means of avoiding detention.
"I have spoken to the commander of border protection command and he says that although it is likely that fuel was involved in the explosion on the boat, he cannot say for certain that it was in and in consequence," said Home Affairs Minister Bob Debus.
"Of course he cannot answer the question that everyone would like to know - was this an accident or was it sabotage."
"We will continue to tell the public as much as we reasonably and possibly can about the progress of events here."
The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with emigrating to Australia.