(KUPANG, Indonesia) – Indonesian police say they have detained a group of 66 illegal migrants from Iran and Afghanistan who were trying to reach Australia by boat.
East Nusatenggara police chief Col. Yorry Yance Worang says police detained the group on Tuesday when they were stranded off Usu island in eastern Indonesia after their rickety vessel ran out of fuel and food.
He says they told authorities they wanted to seek asylum in Australia but none had proper travel documents. They were transferred Wednesday to an immigration detention center and will be handed over to the International Organization for Migration.
Indonesia, with more than 17,000 islands, has long been a transit point for people fleeing conflict-ridden countries.