Australia defends response to refugee boat sinking off Indonesia
SYDNEY (AFP) - Australia on Sunday insisted it provided "all appropriate assistance" to an asylum-seeker boat that sank off Indonesia, killing at least 22, after survivors claimed their calls for help had gone unheeded.
The vessel, carrying an estimated 120 asylum-seekers from Lebanon, Jordan and Yemen, sank in rough seas on Friday, claiming 22 lives - including multiple children - with dozens more passengers unaccounted for.
It is the first fatal sinking since conservative Prime Minister Tony Abbott's election win and comes ahead of his arrival in Jakarta on Monday on his first foreign trip as leader where Australia's controversial new people-smuggling policies - including plans to turn back boats to Indonesia - are likely to dominate talks.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann defended the government's response to the disaster on Sunday after survivors claimed they had repeatedly called Australian authorities to request assistance and were promised help that never came.