Inquest into Christmas Island boat tragedy begins in Australia

09:04, May 19, 2011      

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Inquest into the fatal asylum seeker boat crash off Christmas Island last year begins in Australia on Wednesday.

The asylum seeker boat, carrying about 90 passengers, known as SIEV 221, crashed on rocks and broke apart off Christmas Island of Australia on Dec. 15. last year.

Forty-two people survived, 30 bodies were recovered, and others were never found.

According to Malcolm McCusker, counsel assisting the Western Australian coroner, the passengers were assured before they left Indonesia that the boat was in good condition, but the engine stopped twice during its journey, including when it was about 200 meters from shore.

Some passengers said the crew provided no safety instructions or advice of what to do in an emergency, and there were only 20 to 30 life jackets, which McCusker said "was nowhere near enough for all passengers."

The inquest also heard that the captain of the Indonesian fishing vessel had abandoned the boat a day earlier before the incident.

McCusker said the engine was recovered after the incident, and a mechanical report obtained by Western Australia Police found there was no internal damage, and the engine had not been running when the boat sank due to a lack of fuel in the injection pump.

The inquest will continue on Thursday.

Source: Xinhua
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