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Australia stops boat carrying 58 asylum-seekers: Minister

Australia has intercepted a boat carrying 58 suspected asylum-seekers off its northern coast, the Home Minister said on Wednesday, in the fourth such recent incident.

world Updated: Sep 16, 2009 11:37 IST

Australia has intercepted a boat carrying 58 suspected asylum-seekers off its northern coast, the Home Minister said on Wednesday, in the fourth such recent incident.

A navy patrol vessel stopped the boat early on Tuesday, bringing to 213 the number of apparent illegal immigrants found in the area since September 7.

Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O'Connor said the group would be transferred to Australia's high-security processing centre on Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean.

"They will undergo security, identity and health checks as well as establish their reasons for travel," O'Connor said in a statement.

"Situations around the world mean that large numbers of displaced persons are looking for settlement in wealthy, developed nations like Australia and can be targeted by, and fall prey to, people-smugglers," he added.

Some 148 asylum-seekers were stopped off Australia's northwest coast in separate boats on Saturday, after seven were found on September 7.

Indonesian authorities also intercepted an Australia-bound boat carrying 56 people late last week.

Australia has detained more than 1,000 would-be refugees at sea this year and the government warned that there are thousands more waiting in neighbouring Indonesia, a key staging post for people smugglers.