6 rescued in waters off Indonesia

Story highlights

  • The survivors are found far from the initial search area
  • Three ships are on the scene and more are expected to join the search
  • Australian, Indonesian and private vessels are looking for survivors
  • Ships carrying people seeking asylum in Australia regularly get into trouble in the area

Six people were rescued in the waters off Indonesia early Thursday as authorities search for survivors of a boat that reportedly had engine trouble a day earlier, Australian officials said.

Rescue workers searched all day Wednesday after the Australian Maritime Safety Authority received a call from someone who said they were on board a vessel having engine trouble with about 150 others, presumed to be asylum seekers.

The Australians said they were able to determine from the conversation that the vessel was about 8 nautical miles southwest of the island of Java. They alerted the Indonesian search and rescue agency, BASARNAS, which dispatched two helicopters and a rescue boat, BASARNAS spokesman Gagah Prakoso said.

Rescue workers were unable to find any signs of the vessel after searching a large area in the Sunda Strait between Java and the island of Sumatra, he said.

Later Wednesday, Australian search and rescue authorities said they updated the vessel's likely position based on drift modeling and tasked the container ship APL Bahrain to head to the area.

Early Thursday, the APL Bahrain reported seeing people in the water and managed to pick up six survivors about 42 nautical miles west of Java, Australian authorities said.

Two other merchant vessels were also at the scene Thursday morning, Australian authorities said. Two Australian defense aircraft, an Australian naval vessel, and two Indonesian search vessels were also expected to head to the area.

Several ships carrying people seeking asylum in Australia have run into trouble in the waters between Indonesia and Australia in the past two years. The issue has become a highly sensitive political topic in Australia.

Read more: Asylum seekers risking all to escape dangers of home

Read more: Report seeks to break Australian impasse over asylum

The vessels often head for Christmas Island, a remote Australian territory closer to Java than to the Australian mainland.

Dozens of people are believed to have died after two ships capsized near Christmas Island in June. More than 200 people were rescued from those accidents.

      CNN recommends

    • pkg clancy north korea nuclear dreams_00002004.jpg

      North Korea nuclear dream video

      As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
    • Photos: Faces of the world

      Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
    • pkg rivers uk football match fixing_00005026.jpg

      How to fix a soccer match

      Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
    • No Eiffel Towers, Statues of Liberties, Mt. Rushmores, Taj Mahals, Aussie koalas or Chairman Maos.

      15 biggest souvenir-buying no-no's

      It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.