Four dead as boat carrying asylum seekers capsizes in Indian Ocean

Hundreds have died making the journey from Indonesia to Christmas Island and the Australian mainland in recent years

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The Independent Online

A boat carrying around 150 suspected asylum seeker has capsized off Australia's Christmas Island.

The Australian border agency said that four bodies had been recovered and 144 survivors had been pulled from the Indian Ocean by navy ships, 70 nautical miles (from shore.

After making a distress call, the boat was picked up and escorted by a navy ship. However, it capsized in bad weather on its way to Christmas Island, with the majority of people onboard entering the water.

A Royal Australian Air Force plane deployed a number of life-rafts, and a pair of Navy ships were able to pull 144 migrants alive from the water.

Christmas island is located about 1,600 miles north-west of Australia. It is popular with asylum seekers who pay people smugglers to take them there from Indonesia in the hope of making the onward journey to the mainland.

Hundreds have died while attempting the journey in recent years.

Last week, another boat carrying asylum seekers sank in the area. Officials rescued 88 asylum seekers and the body of a baby boy but were unable to find a further eight passengers who vanished in the water.