Tipped off: Sarah Hanson-Young. Photo: Peter Braig An asylum-seeker advocacy group and a Greens senator have said they were tipped off by an anonymous caller that the federal government knew the boat that capsized last week killing about 55 men, women, and children was ”stranded” but had not gone to its rescue.
The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre in Melbourne and Senator Sarah Hanson-Young’s office were contacted separately by a woman with an Australian accent on the afternoon of Friday, June 7.
She told staff in both offices the boat had been ”stranded” since the Wednesday before and the ”department” knew about it.
The call was made about 12 hours before the Australian Maritime Safety Authority issued a mayday alert to all ships in the area off Christmas Island saying the boat was believed to have capsized.
A search started the next day, including by Customs and commercial aircraft, and nine bodies were spotted in the water on Saturday afternoon. Sources say some of the passengers were holding up babies. Another four bodies were found later in the evening. None have been recovered.
Pamela Curr, from the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, said the caller had told staff she was ringing out of ”ethical concerns” and that there were men, women and two babies on board.
Senator Hanson-Young said the woman had also told her staff she was revealing the information to ”get it off her chest” and that the boat which had been stranded for several days had an eight-month-old baby on board. The woman also said people on the boat had seen planes fly overhead.
Senator Hanson-Young immediately informed Minister for Home Affairs Jason Clare of the call but told Fairfax Media she was later told the call had been about a different boat.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.