Search and rescue operation near Christmas Island - 8 June 2013
Australian Customs & Border Protection Service
Australian Government authorities conducting a search and rescue operation approximately 65 nautical miles west-north-west of Christmas Island have this afternoon sighted a number of deceased people in the water.
A Customs and Border Protection Dash-8 surveillance aircraft, operating under the coordination of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC Australia), sighted the deceased people, and HMAS Warramunga, also operating in support of RCC Australia, has confirmed the sighting.
RCC Australia has been coordinating the search and rescue effort since Friday morning for a suspected irregular entry vessel which had previously been identified approaching Christmas Island.
A RAAF maritime patrol aircraft supporting the search spotted a submerged hull late yesterday while searching for the suspected irregular entry vessel.
The current search involves three aircraft; a P3 Orion, a Customs and Border Protection Dash-8 surveillance aircraft and a private aircraft. There are also three surface assets assisting with the search; HMAS Warramunga and two merchant vessels. This search has identified 9 deceased people.
The search and rescue operation is focussed on finding survivors and will continue into the night. Further details will be provided as they become available.
The Minister for Home Affairs is tonight travelling to Canberra for a personal briefing from Border Protection Command on the operation.
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