All onboard Australia-bound asylum-seeker boat found

The fishing boat that carried suspected asylum seekers from Vietnam

The fishing boat that carried suspected asylum seekers from Vietnam

The Department of Home Affairs has so far refused to confirm the report, and would not reveal whether Border Force officials were still searching for any people who abandoned the boat near the mouth of the river on Sunday.

Once the migrants were all accounted for, the government said on Tuesday that the group would be deported to Christmas Island, an Australian territory almost 1,000 miles from the closest point in continental Australia, where they would be detained and their immigration statuses determined.

The government says its zero-tolerance policy toward migrants who make the journey by sea is in place to discourage human trafficking and risky trips, but critics contend the rules are discriminatory and violate migrants' rights.

So when local fisherman Justin Ward spotted two men hiding in the rainforest's mangroves, he knew their overnight survival was deserving of at least a beer and a quick fish.

"I hope the people, however many there are, get located - it's not a nice area for them to be in".

Most asylum-seeker boats that have arrived in Australia in recent years embarked from Indonesia, though some originated in Sri Lanka.

"We got the blokes to pull in some crab pots for us and we showed them the sights and we had a bit of a banter - showed them a few crocs", Mr Preston told the ABC.

It is the first such vessel "in more than 1,400 days" to make it past Australia's strict monitoring of its waters, according to Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton.

Malaysian Fugitive Being Investigated by DOJ
The newspaper said that since 2016 banks have curtailed Low's access to funds - making it hard for him to pay legal expenses. In addition, authorities in Malaysia have also charged him with money laundering in the case, according to the Journal .

The boat's evasion of the border authorities was a "failing" in surveillance, Dutton said, adding that since 2014, the government had stopped 33 boats and disrupted over 70 people-smuggling operations.

Australia sent five Chinese men home in 2017 after authorities intercepted an alleged people-smuggling boat in the Torres Strait, south of Papua New Guinea.

Queensland Police Minister Mark Ryan told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation 15 passengers had been found so far.

Broadcaster ABC said 17 people were on the boat and the final two on the loose were caught on Tuesday morning, citing State Emergency Service local area director Peter Rinaudo. Ward took them on a tour, pointing out the dangers of the mangroves.

Locals raised the alarm after witnessing a large group of people fleeing the sinking vessel and swimming to a nearby beach.

"We gave them a ride up the river and had a few laughs".

"I agree we can't have everybody moving into the country", Ward said.

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