Added by Annika L. Krugel on December 16, 2010
A wooden boat carrying dozens of asylum seekers has sunk off the coast of the Christmas Island.
It is unclear how many people have died following the incident. Western Australia state Premier Colin Barnett said: “While many details about this tragedy are still unconfirmed, I understand there have been a large number of fatalities and numerous injuries to those aboard the vessel, including women and children.”
Simon Prince, a Christmas Island resident living next to the cliff where the boat crashed, said the engine of the six to nine metre boat had failed. He called the police while other locals had gathered around the cliff trying to figure out how they could help.
“When the boat hit the cliff there was a sickening crack. All the people on board rushed to the land side, which is the worst thing they could do, but I don’t think anybody could swim,” said Prince.
Prince said he thought there were about 50 people on the boat, but it has not been confirmed how many passengers were onboard the people-smuggling boat or where they are from.
Christmas Island is an Australian territory near Indonesia that is often targeted by refugees who want to start a new life in Australia.