Dozens of migrants stranded off Madura island
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Over 60 migrants, reportedly from the Middle East, have been stranded on Goa-goa island near Sumenep waters in Madura, East Java, since their boat lost power after being hit by high waves on Monday.
Head of the Surabaya Search and Rescue (SAR Surabaya) office Sutrisno told The Jakarta Post on Thursday that the migrants were in the process of being evacuated.
SAR Surabaya had asked the Indonesian Navy to send one of its vessels -- KRI Tongkol 831 -- to help the evacuation process, Sutrisno said, because SAR Surabaya’s fiberglass boats were incapable of reaching Goa-goa Island in bad weather.
“The KRI Tongkol has been deployed and is expected to arrive at the incident site at 11 p.m. and transport the victims to Surabaya. It is expected that they will arrive in Surabaya tomorrow [Friday],” he said.
Spokesman for the Navy’s Eastern Fleet Lt. Col. Yayan Sugiana confirmed the warship’s deployment.
Sutrisno further explained that the migrants hailed from the Middle East. It was not clear yet what their ultimate destination was, but in line with previous such incidents it is believed that they were en route to Australia in search of asylum.
“We will question them as soon as the evacuation process is completed,” he said.
Despite many attempts at getting to Australia being foiled in the past, migrants remain determined in their efforts to get to that nation in the quest for a better life than that available in their countries of origin.
Recently, on July 18, the Malang Water Police in East Java arrested 80 migrants from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Sudan as they were waiting for a boat to transport them to Australia.
On Dec. 18, 2011, a boat transporting over 200 migrants capsized in Prigi waters in Trenggalek regency, East Java. Out of that number only 48 people were rescued, 96 bodies were recovered and the remainder were declared missing.
The ill-fated boat was later discovered 400 nautical miles to the east of the incident site.
In the latter case, four Indonesian soldiers were found to have been involved. They were identified as Chief Sgt. KA, First Lt. S and Chief Pvt. K who were members of Tulungagung military district command and Chief Sgt. K, a member of Sumenep military district command.
The four soldiers were not interrogated by the Military Police of the local military resort but directly by the Military Police of the Brawijaya military district command.
Five civilians were also named suspects by the police for their involvement in the smuggling of the migrants to Australia.