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Migrants feared drowned off Indonesia - Asia-Pacific - Al Jazeera English

A boat believed to be carrying more than 250 migrants, many of them from the Middle East, has sunk off Indonesia's main island of Java, rescuers say.

The vessel, which survivors said was headed for Christmas Island, an Australian territory in the Indian Ocean, went down in bad weather and heavy seas about 40 nautical miles off the coast of Java on Saturday.

Police blamed the accident on overloading, telling the country's official news agency Antara that the vessel appeared to have been carrying more than twice its capacity.

"The passengers were very tightly packed, and therefore had nowhere to go ... That made the boat even more unstable and eventually it sank"

- Esmat Adine, Afghan migrant

So far only 33 people have been rescued, Sahrul Arifin, the head of emergency and logistics at the East Java Disaster Mitigation Centre, said.

Bad weather and waves of up to five metres hampered rescue efforts on Sunday, with 300 rescuers including navy and police officers deployed to comb the sea for bodies.

The survivors are being kept at a community hall near Prigi beach, 640km southeast of Indonesia's capital Jakarta.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Sun Dec 18th, 2011 at 12:24:12 PM EST
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