Boat with 200 people capsizes off Indonesia

Indonesian and Australian navies have launched a rescue for about 200 people aboard a boat that capsized off Indonesia's southern coast in an apparent attempt to reach Australia to seek asylum, officials from the two countries said.

The boat capsized on Thursday about 200 km north of the Australian territory of Christmas Island with "up to 200 people" on board, the Australian Customs Service said in a statement. The boat was about the same distance from the southern coast of Indonesia.

Gagah Prakoso, a spokesman for Indonesia's Search and Rescue Agency, said two Indonesian warships have been dispatched to scene.

Prakoso said the boat was reportedly carrying 206 people, but added that he could not yet say their country of origin or from where they departed.

"We have sent two warships but given the high waves and weather, I am not sure they could reach the are today," he said.

Australian aircraft and navy ships were helping with the rescue, the Customs statement said.

They include a defense aircraft equipped with life rafts, a Customs surveillance aircraft and two navy patrol boats.


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