The Straits Times
Published on Sep 01, 2012

Indonesian police take 50 asylum-seekers into custody


JAKARTA (AFP) - Indonesian police are holding 50 Sri Lankan asylum-seekers in custody two days after they were found stranded and starving in a faulty boat drifting off Sumatra, a rescue official said on Saturday.

Fishermen found the asylum seekers, who were trying to reach Australia, on Thursday on a boat with a broken engine and brought them ashore, National Search and Rescue Agency spokesman Gagah Prakoso told AFP.

"They were starving and dehydrated, but have since been given food, water and medical attention. They are now in the custody of police in the town of Sikakap," he said, adding that the asylum-seekers were mostly men.

The boat was found drifting near the Mentawai islands, a popular surfing destination around 100km from the western coast of Sumatra.