A group of 24 Iranians and Iraqis who had been trying to slip into Australia by boat has been found stranded on the small Indonesian island of Jemur, south of Singapore, the Antara news agency said Wednesday.
Antara quoted Jumanter Lubis, the head of the immigration office in Bagan Siapiapi subdistrict of Riau province as saying the 22 Iranians and two Iraqis, including a child and two women were "very weak."
Lubis said the group was found by Malaysian fishermen who handed them over to Indonesian colleagues who in turn abandoned them on the island.
"They (the aliens) said during questioning that their destination was Australia and not Indonesia," Lubis said.
He said the group, which had arrived in Malaysia on December 11 from Jordan and planned to continue on to Australia by boat, had been brought to Tanjung Pinang subdistrict on Tuesday to be handed over to United Nations officials.
It was the third time Indonesian authorities had found foreigners stranded on the small islands between Singpore and Sumatra island this year, Lubis said.
"The first group consisted of 12 foreigners and the second 24 foreigners, both of which were stranded in February," he said.
Last week refugee agencies said 163 illegal immigrants from Middle Eastern countries were feared drowned in the Timor Sea, when two boatloads of illegal aliens left Indonesia's Java island for Australia and failed to arrive.
A Japanese tanker reportedly picked up four survivors from a boat carrying 87 people, while the other boat was understood to have 80 passengers on board -- JAKARTA (AFP)
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