Ship sinks off Indonesia's coast, at least 7 dead

Fishermen rescued more than a dozen people from the choppy waters where the boat sank yesterday in the Malacca Strait, about 30 miles (50 km) from land, said Al Muhfid, a navy second lieutenant.

The Afghan men, including several who were badly hurt, told authorities they wanted to seek political asylum in Indonesia because of the security situation in their homeland, he said. Seven were killed and at least 13 were missing, he said.

Muhfid said the migrants had flown from Afghanistan to Malaysia, where human traffickers offered to help them get by boat to Australia, where they hoped to start a new life. Their vessel sank off the coast of Sumatra early on Thursday.

Indonesia is increasingly being used as a transit point for illegal migrants from war-ravaged countries like Afghanistan and Iraq. The vast seas surrounding the archipelago are treacherous, particularly during high tides in the tropical rainy season.

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