Asylum seeker boat issues distress call

Last updated 19:43 17/07/2013

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A new search and rescue operation is underway off Christmas Island after an asylum seeker boat carrying 80 people issued a distress call.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) today  received a request for assistance from the vessel at around 12.25pm (local time).

A P3 Orion aircraft is at the scene about 94 nautical miles off Christmas Island, and ships have been radioed by AMSA and asked to  assist.

A merchant ship is on its way and HMAS Bathurst and ACV Triton are expected to arrive later in the day, AMSA confirmed in a statement.

The latest rescue bid comes after four people died when a boat  carrying nearly 150 people capsized in rough waters off Christmas Island on Tuesday.

The navy pulled 144 asylum seekers from the water alive.

The survivors, from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and Iraq, were taken to Christmas Island, along with three Indonesian crew members.

-Agencies

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