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Official death toll of Australian boat crash yet available: police

12-15-2010 16:50 BJT

CANBERRA, Dec. 15 (Xinhua) -- A boat reportedly carrying up to 70 asylum seekers, including women and children, struck the cliffs Wednesday morning. Australian Federal Police (AFP) said no official figure of deaths is available at the moment.

The AFP National Media Team told Xinhua on Wednesday the ongoing media reports on the number of people dead in the incident are just speculations. At the moment there is no official number available.

The AFP said it is working with partner Government agencies on Christmas Island coordinating the immediate response to this incident. "This response is ongoing and the AFP's priority is the safety of all involved in the incident."

It said a more detailed statement regarding this matter will be provided in about half an hour.

Witness Phillip Stewart told Sky News that the boat struck the cliffs near Rocky Point around 7 a.m. Christmas Island time.

"We did witness one person jumping off a piece of flotsam and swimming to a naval rescue but unfortunately what we witnessed was a major tragedy."

Stewart said the asylum seeker boat was completely destroyed in the stormy conditions. "There's absolutely nothing left of the boat," he said.

Editor:Du Xiaodan |Source: Xinhua

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