Hundreds Missing After Ship Sinks off Indonesia

250 asylum seekers were heading to Australia when storm sank boat
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 18, 2011 5:27 AM CST
Hundreds Missing After Ship Sinks off Indonesia
Two survivors of a sinking boat, stand next to Indonesian officials in Watulimo, East Java on December 18, 2011. A boat packed with around 250 migrants sank off Indonesia's Java island on December 17, search and rescue officials said, with efforts to reach survivors hampered by bad weather and heavy...   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – More than 200 asylum seekers from Afghanistan, Turkey, Iraq, and Iran who were en route to Australia are missing and feared dead after their overcrowded boat sank off the coast of Indonesia's main island of Java, reports the AP. About 250 people were packed onto a boat designed for fewer than half that number; so far, only 33 people have been saved, including two children.

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The boat encountered a powerful storm late yesterday. As it tried to sail through it, many passengers panicked and started pushing each other, causing the boat to rock even more until it ultimately went down. Rescuers, who are battling 13-foot waves and watching the hours tick by, fear there are no more survivors. "They have scoured a 50-mile radius but haven't found anything," said the head of the rescue operations. (Read more shipwreck stories.)

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