Boat believed carrying asylum seekers flips in remote Australian waters; 4 dead; 144 rescued

A boat carrying 150 people believed to be asylum seekers has capsized off Australia's Christmas Island, killing four people.

Australia's Customs and Border Protection says the boat turned over in rough seas Tuesday, north of the remote island.

Two navy ships had earlier been sent to assist the vessel but were unable to board it due to bad weather. The ships were escorting it to Christmas Island when it flipped.

The two ships were able to pull 144 people alive from the water. The border protection authority said an additional four bodies were recovered.

Christmas Island is a popular destination for asylum seekers who crowd into rickety boats at Indonesian ports and pay smugglers to ferry them to Australian shores. Hundreds have died while attempting the journey in recent years.