98 thrown overboard

Date

4BC Drive: The bodies of 98 asylum seekers on board a boat believed to be heading to Indonesia and Australia were reportedly thrown into the sea by their shipmates.

Scott Morrison, Opposition Immigration Spokesperson, and Brendan O'Connor, Immigration Minister, join Gary Hardgrave.

The group, which included one boy, were at sea without food for 21 days before the Sri Lankan navy rescued them.

They were rushed to Sri Lanka's Karapitiya Teaching Hospital and treated for acute dehydration, a statement from the Sri Lankan navy said on Thursday.

Reuters reported that the survivors told Sri Lankan authorities of throwing 98 people overboard after they died of starvation and dehydration.

The survivors say they were seeking asylum in Indonesia and Australia.

"They said they had carried food and water for only one month and they had been in the sea for two months after the ship engine stalled," a Sri Lankan police spokesman told Reuters.

Their captain and 97 others died due to dehydration and starvation, the spokesman added.

"They also said they had thrown the dead bodies into the sea."

Mr O'Connor said it was another example of the awful consequences of getting on dangerous boats.

He urged the coalition to put aside politics and help the government implement all 22 recommendations made by the Houston expert panel on asylum seekers.

"It's really now time for certainly the opposition to have a rethink about their opposition to some of those recommendations," he told Fairfax Radio.

But opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said Mr O'Connor's mission statement was to "do nothing, blame the coalition".

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