Page last updated at 11:26 GMT, Monday, 12 October 2009 12:26 UK

Asylum for boat-explosion Afghans

A boat with suspected asylum seekers off Australia's north-west coast. Photo: 15 September 2009
Many refugees attempt to reach Australia by sea

The Australian government is to grant refugee status to 42 Afghan men who survived a boat explosion that killed five other asylum seekers in April.

This month, the police announced that passengers had deliberately set fire to the boat after it had been intercepted by the Australian navy.

But officers said there was insufficient evidence to bring charges.

The government said the men could lose the visas if new evidence emerges that they were involved in the explosion.

The boat was carrying 47 Afghan asylum seekers and two Indonesian crew members when it exploded, after being intercepted by the Australian navy some 600km (370 miles) off the north-west coast of the country.

Five passengers were killed and dozens more were injured.


But even though the police determined that at least one asylum seeker set fire to the boat deliberately, they were unable to pinpoint who precisely was involved.

The only charges brought in relation to the incident were against the Indonesian sailors, who have been accused of people smuggling but are not suspects in the fatal fire.

Now, the surviving Afghan asylum seekers, many of whom sustained bad burns in the explosion, are to be granted refugee status in Australia.

The country's immigration minister said they had been found to be genuine refugees because of the situation in Afghanistan and the potential threat to their lives if they returned to their homeland.

A coroner's inquest into the incident opens in Darwin in January.

The state premier of Western Australia criticised the federal government for granting the migrants refugee status before the inquest.

"I think they should have waited until after that inquest was held," Colin Barnett told reporters.

Print Sponsor

Australia stops 'asylum' vessel
16 Sep 09 |  Asia-Pacific
Australia PM furious at smugglers
17 Apr 09 |  Asia-Pacific
Explosion on asylum seekers' boat
16 Apr 09 |  Asia-Pacific
Australia probes Afghan killings
27 Oct 08 |  Asia-Pacific
Australia abandons asylum policy
29 Jul 08 |  Asia-Pacific

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2019 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific