A fishing boat carrying dozens of suspected illegal migrants has run ashore in Queensland, with around 30 suspected asylum-seekers on the run in the state’s north.
In a report that ran on Monday’s episode of Sunrise, it is believed 11 people have been detained, while many more remain unaccounted for in crocodile-infested waters in Far North Queensland’s Daintree Rainforest. The boat is believed to have ran ashore north of Cairns on Sunday morning.
While no one else has yet been located, authorities are continuing to hunt for more people who are on the run. According to Sunrise, 30 people were on board the foreign fishing vessel, which ran aground near the iconic rainforest over the weekend. Sunrise claims those on board were suspected asylum-seekers.
If so, it would be the first people-smuggling operation to reach Aussie shores in four years. The report claims those on board swam through crocodile-infested waters to reach the shore, where witnesses saw some people escape into the rainforest. Australian Border Force told Sunrise the first priority was to locate the people safely.
“The ABF is currently investigating what we believe to be an illegal fishing vessel that ran aground north of Port Douglas,” a spokesperson from the Australian Border Force told Starts at 60. “The ABF has a contingent of officers on site and is grateful for the support being provided by Queensland Police Service. We can confirm that a number of potential unlawful non-citizens have been located.
“The ABF and Department of Home Affairs will undertake the necessary border processes to establish circumstances around the arrival. As investigations into this matter are ongoing it would be inappropriate to comment further.”
While Australian Border Force are leading the search, Queensland’s Police Service and the SES has also been helping to search the banks of the Daintree. Today said those detained already had been transported to a Cairns watch house, although it couldn’t confirm how many people were still missing. It is also not known if it was an illegal fishing vessel or a boat attempting to smuggle refugees into the country.
Australia’s current Operation Sovereign Borders policy means asylum-seekers who try to reach the country by boat are prevented from resettling here. They’re either turned away or sent to Manus or Nauru.