Australian authorities have intercepted a vessel carrying around 100 asylum seekers, media reports said on Thursday.

The vessel was carrying 94 people and three crew members, Home Affairs Minister Brendan O’Connor was quoted as saying by the media.

It was found by HMAS Maitland last night, west of Ashmore Islands, after being spotted by a Border Protection plane.

The group will be transferred to Christmas Island where they will undergo security, identity and health checks.

Authorities will also try to establish their reasons for travel, Mr. O’Connor said.

Earlier, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd had refused to say if he will change border protection policy in the wake of growing pressure of asylum seekers into the country.

As authorities had intercepted two boats on Tuesday as well, Mr. Rudd has come under pressure to take a tougher stance on border protection.

“The bottom line is this — to make sure you are responding to the practical challenges at the time,” he said.

Mr. Rudd, however, maintained push factors such as conflicts in Sri Lanka and Afghanistan are to blame for the surge.

“The practical thing is to deal with the challenges as they arise and that’s what we intend to do,” he said adding, “And with various people engaged in work to deal with people smugglers in Indonesia we now have a large number of interruptions of people smuggling ventures by the Indonesians, by the Malaysians and by others.”

“But you know something ... it is a question of how you respond to the challenges that you’re presented with each day, each month, each year such as it’s been for the last 30 years,” he said.

Keywords: Australiarefugee

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