Australia has ended a three-day search for survivors among more than 90 Afghan asylum seekers missing since a fishing boat carrying them capsized between Australia and Indonesia.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said the air and sea search ended on Saturday and that all those missing were now presumed dead.
No survivor had been found since Thursday, when 108 men and a 13-year-old boy were rescued from the Indian Ocean.
Searchers would now focus on recovery of bodies. The safety authority said six bodies had been recovered by Saturday, and more had been seen by planes searching for survivors.
More than 200 men seeking asylum in Australia were aboard the Indonesian fishing boat.AMSA said overnight and morning searches of the sea north of remote Christmas Island had failed to find any more survivors.The boat is believed to have originated in Sri Lanka.
Earlier, Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare said the critical 36-hour search window had passed and conditions had steadily deteriorated.
“There may still be people alive, but we’re past that window,” he told ABC Television. “I’ve been on the phone to Border Protection Command.
Their advice is that they’ve now instructed the men and women out in the search and rescue area to identify people who perished and retrieve those bodies.” The capsize is the latest in a series of refugee boat disasters in the Indian Ocean in recent years, as rickety, overloaded vessels packed with desperate migrants struggle to reach Australia.