Australian Air Force plane helps detect and rescue asylum seekers in Indian Ocean

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An Australian Air Force surveillance plan has helped detect and save 41 asylum seekers from drowning in the Indian Ocean last month.

Key points:

  • The asylum seekers were stopped by Sri Lanka Navy vessels
  • They were trying to reach Australia
  • Another group of asylum seekers was recently intercepted near Christmas Island

The asylum seekers were attempting to travel to Australia and were intercepted by the Sri Lankan Navy on May 23.

This is the second boat that has been intercepted while attempting to travel to Australia in the past few weeks.

Last week, a boat with 20 asylum seekers was intercepted by authorities near Christmas Island, off Western Australia’s north-west coast.

An image supplied by Border Force of the Australian navy approaching an asylum seeker boat.

At the time, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said that was “not the only vessel we’re worried about”.

This latest incident was confirmed by the chief of Operation Sovereign Borders, Major General Craig Furini.

“Fortunately the Sri Lankan Navy was able to rescue 41 Sri Lankan nationals on board,” he said.

“This highlights the very real danger of attempting these journeys.

“Before [operation sovereign borders] started in 2013 more than 1,200 drowned at sea attempting such journeys at sea. Since Operation Sovereign Borders began there has been none.”

A group of people stand in a horizontal line in front of a building with their faces blurred.