JAKARTA, INDONESIA (BNO NEWS) — Indonesian authorities on Sunday rescued 120 asylum seekers from the Middle East, but officials are still trying to convince them to disembark from the vessel, local media reported on late Monday.
The Singapore-registered MT Hermia tanker rescued 120 men believed to be from Afghanistan and Iran in Indonesian waters on Sunday as their sinking boat was trying to reach Australia. The tanker is currently docked in the port city of Merak, located in the province of Banten in western Java.
Banten province maritime police chief Budi Hermawan told the Jakarta Globe that some 100 police officers surrounded the tanker after it arrived, awaiting the people to disembark, but the asylum seekers insisted that they did not want to get down as they want to reach Australia.
While security officials detained four men of Indonesian appearance, apparently crew members in charge of the boat, Hermawan said officials from the police, immigration and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) were trying to negotiate the disembarkment of the immigrants.
Indonesia is commonly used as a transit region for asylum seekers trying to reach Australia illegally. Over 200 people are believed to have died last December when a boat carrying people mostly from Afghanistan and Iran sank in Indonesian waters. Only 47 people survived the incident.