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Australia defends decision to leave bodies in ocean

Published on Jun 11, 2013 11:55 AM

SYDNEY (AFP) - Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Tuesday defended her government's decision to leave the bodies of drowned asylum-seekers in the ocean following criticism more would have been done had they been Australians.

An extensive three-day air and sea search for an asylum-seeker boat, which is presumed to have capsized near Christmas Island with at least 55 people on board last week, failed to find any survivors.

Up to 13 bodies were spotted in the water, along with debris and life-jackets, but they were not recovered while the hunt for survivors was on and customs officials said on Monday they were now too busy rescuing other boats.

"That is a very tough decision but it is an operational decision," Ms Gillard told reporters.

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