Tragedy Down Under: Asylum Seekers’ Boat Sinks Off Australian Island

SYDNEY (December 15, 2010)--A "large number" of asylum seekers including women and children were killed or injured after their boat smashed apart and sank off an Australian island, Western Australia state Premier Colin Barnett said Wednesday.

Barnett said details are still coming in, but he understands there have been a "large number" of fatalities and injuries.

He said conditions in the ocean off Christmas Island are extremely dangerous and a rescue operation is still underway.

Christmas Island is a remote Australian territory closer to Indonesia than the Australian mainland and a frequent target of refugee hopefuls, who are housed in a detention center there.

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