Updated: 04/09/2013 15:20 | By Agence France-Presse

Asylum-seeker boat reaches Australian mainland

A boat packed with 66 asylum-seekers managed to evade detection by border patrols and arrived at a port on the Australian mainland.


Asylum-seeker boat reaches Australian mainland

A boat believed to be carrying asylum-seekers sails towards Australian waters, in a picture released by Indonesia on July 4, 2012. A boat packed with 66 asylum-seekers managed to evade detection by border patrols and arrived at a port on the Australian mainland on Tuesday.

The boat was spotted within the harbour limits of Geraldton in Western Australia, more than 2,000 kilometres (1,240 miles) south of Australia's Indian Ocean territory of Christmas Island where asylum-seekers are usually intercepted.

"Customs and Border Protection have advised a suspected irregular entry vessel arrived within the harbour limits of Geraldton this afternoon," Home Affairs Jason Clare confirmed.

"Initial indications suggest there are 66 people on board."

The West Australian newspaper said the boat, with men, women and children on board, was from Sri Lanka and had been at sea for more than six weeks before arriving at the port 425 km north of Perth.

Australia is facing a steady influx of asylum-seekers arriving by boat, many of whom use Indonesia as a transit hub. They pay people-smugglers for passage on leaky wooden vessels after fleeing their home countries.

Thousands come from Sri Lanka, with Canberra currently funding a media campaign in the South Asian country to caution would-be boatpeople against undertaking the journey.

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