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Australia Rescues 105 Asylum Seekers off Christmas Island

Australia has suspended search and rescue operations after rescuing 106 asylum seekers whose boat sank Tuesday in the Indian Ocean.

The Maritime Safety Authority say information received from survivors indicates that five people remain unaccounted for and presumed dead. The survivors are now being transported to Christmas Island, where their medical needs will be assessed.

The nationalities of the asylum seekers have not been made public.

Australia's government last month announced it would no longer accept asylum seekers by boat, in an effort to discourage such journeys.

Hundreds have drowned in recent years trying to make the journey from Indonesia to Australian territory.

It is now sending verified refugees to Papua New Guinea or the tiny Pacific Island nation of Nauru for processing and resettlement.



Australia's conservative opposition and some rights groups have criticized the new policy as inhumane.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has been under domestic pressure to stop the influx, with more than 15,000 asylum seekers sailing to Australia this year.

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