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Asylum seekers rescued off West Australia

Published: 9:40PM Thursday September 06, 2012 Source: AAP

Australian authorities have gone to the aid of a boat carrying 63 suspected asylum seekers off the West Australian coast.

The vessel, which arrived yesterday afternoon, is the third asylum-seeker boat in 24 hours to reach Australian waters.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority Rescue Co-ordination Centre conducted a search-and-rescue operation, before finding it north-west of Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Home Affairs minister Jason Clare said in a statement today.

Merchant vessel TW Manila picked up the 63 passengers, and they arrived at Christmas Island this morning to undergo security, health and identity checks. Two other vessels, carrying a total of 146 passengers, arrived in Australian waters earlier yesterday.

HMAS Launceston found one boat north-east of Ashmore Islands with 80 passengers on board, while the other with 66 passengers was found north-west of Christmas Island, and assisted by HMAS Childers and HMAS Maitland.

"People arriving by boat without a visa after 13 August 2012 run the risk of transfer to a regional processing country," Mr Clare said.