SIKAKAP, Indonesia – Police say 53 Sri Lankan asylum seekers are refusing to leave their ship after it ran out of fuel and was towed to a port in western Indonesia.
Police Capt. Abdurachman Suryanegara said Monday the Sri Lankans asked for fuel so they could continue their voyage to Australia to seek asylum.
The ship was towed Sunday to Mentawai island off Sumatra after residents reported the Sri Lankans were offering gold and jewelry to obtain food, water and fuel.
Another group of 43 Sri Lankans is also being held in Mentawai after being rescued last week, nine days after their boat's engine broke down.
Australian officials have noted a big spike in asylum seekers attempting the hazardous sea journey to the country before a tougher immigration policy takes effect.