An asylum seeker boat carrying up to 150 people has reportedly capsized north of the Australian territory of Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean.

The Australian government says it is responding to Wednesday’s report of a vessel in distress around 200 kilometres (120 miles) north of the island.

Australian Maritime Safety Authority spokeswoman Jo Meehan says survivors are being rescued by a merchant ship.

The government says that according to initial reports, up to 150 people may be on board.

More than 90 people are assumed drowned after another asylum seeker boat carrying more than 200 people capsized in the same area on Thursday last week.

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