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Monday, August 27, 2001, updated at 14:23(GMT+8)

Australia Refuses 434 Boatpeople to Land

The Australian cabinet decided Monday to refuse permission for Norwegian cargo Tampa to land in Australia.

Tampa rescued 434 boatpeople when their wooden Indonesian fishing vessel broke down north of the Australian-administered island Sunday night.

The Australian Associated Press reported that Prime Minister John Howard said that "The government, having taken legal advice on this matter, and having considered it very carefully this morning, has indicated to the ship's captain that it does not have permission to enter Australian territorial waters."

"It is our view that as a matter of international law, this matter is something that must be resolved between the government of Indonesia and the government of Norway," the prime minister claimed.

He stressed that there is a clear obligation under international law for the rescued passengers to be taken to the nearest feasible point of disembarkation, which would be the Indonesian port of Merak.

"I further understand that arrangements had already been tentatively put in place by the Indonesians to receive those people," he said.

Boat People Rescued

434 Boat people have been rescued from a troubled ferry north-west of Christmas of Australia.

Citing Australian Search and Rescue, the Australian Associated Press (AAP) reported that 434 people were taken off a wooden boat by Norwegian cargo Tampa in the early hours of Monday morning and transferred to Christmas Island, 350 km south of Java.

Australian immigration sources confirmed 96 percent of whom were from Afghanistan and the remainder from Sri Lanka, all suffered civil wars.

The boat also carried five Indonesians.

The ferry was first spotted 148 km north-west of Christmas Island Sunday morning and originally thought to be carrying only about 80 people.

Indonesian authorities coordinated a rescue mission, AAP said and quoted a search and rescue spokesman as saying that "The Tampa was advised to go to Indonesia but in the process the asylum seekers strongly insisted that the cargo ship travel to Christmas Island."

More than 1,300 boat people arrived in Australia in August.

In This Section

The Australian cabinet decided Monday to refuse permission for Norwegian cargo Tampa to land in Australia.

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