A group of Chinese asylum seekers prepared for a second night on the roof of a Sydney detention centre on Thursday, as they demanded Australian authorities give them refugee visas.

The five men and four women have been on the roof since Wednesday morning in the second rooftop protest at Villawood Detention Centre this week.

One man came down on Thursday afternoon for negotiations with immigration officials, said Jamal Daoud of the Justice Action Network, a refugee advocate who is in touch with the group by phone.

Mr. Daoud said the protesters have threatened to jump off the two—storey building if their visa demands are not met.

The Immigration Department did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.

The Chinese citizens have been in Australia between two and six months, entering the country on student and tourist visas, Mr. Daoud said.

Their protest comes after a 30—hour protest by 11 other asylum seekers, mostly Sri Lankans, ended on the roof of another wing of the detention centre on Tuesday. Those protesters won no guarantees that their refugee applications would be approved.

Australia has seen a surge of asylum seekers fleeing Sri Lanka, Iraq and Afghanistan, and protests at detention centres have become relatively common. The influx has touched off a heated political debate as opposition politicians blame the flow on a relaxation of immigration policies by the ruling Labour Party.

Around 5,000 people are being held at immigration detention centres in Australia. Some are detained for overstaying their visas, but the majority want asylum in Australia because they claim they face political or other persecution back home.

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