Arrests made in Indonesia migrant boat disaster

December 22, 2011
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BANYUWANGI, Indonesia – Indonesian authorities arrested eight people Thursday (December 22nd) in connection with an overloaded migrant boat that capsized Saturday as boats and helicopters continued to search the ocean around Bali.

Officials said 90 bodies have been found and only 47 survivors were rescued. The boat, which had a capacity of 100, was carrying about 250 people mostly from Iran and Afghanistan seeking asylum in Australia. The overloaded boat sank Saturday morning, 40 nautical miles off eastern Java.

"The bodies were in horrible condition. You couldn't tell men from women. Their limbs came off when rescuers pulled them out of water," East Java provincial search and rescue agency chief Sutrisino said, according to AFP.

The wreck Saturday is believed to be the largest loss of life from a sinking boat carrying Asian migrants from Indonesia to Australia.

Survivors, some of whom said they spent three days in violent seas clinging to wreckage, say crew members and passengers fought over about two dozen life vests and that the crew abandoned the ship after it capsized.

Three soldiers are also reportedly being questioned after they allegedly helped get people on board the boat.

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