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Navy officer details horrific shipwreck

by tilno50

An inquest into the deadly asylum seeker shipwreck off Christmas Island has heard from the naval officer who took overall command of the massive rescue operation. About 50 asylum seekers, including eight children, are believed to have died when their boat, now known as SIEV 221, smashed into rocks off Christmas Island on December... 15 last year. Lieutenant Commander Mitchell Livingstone detailed the efforts to rescue asylum seekers in extremely bad weather conditions and rough seas off Rocky Point. He testified about survivors being brought on board his patrol boat, HMAS Pirie, and remembered seeing a small girl wrapped in a blanket who was lapsing in and out of consciousness. Lieutenant Commander Livingstone said other survivors were suffering head injuries, internal bleeding, hypothermia and shock. He said another issue the crew faced was stopping them seeing the bodies of those who had died. The inquest was also shown a previously unreleased video of the asylum seeker boat battling rough seas near the shoreline. The court heard that the patrol boat suffered engine trouble, slowing its arrival at the scene of the disaster. Lieutenant Commander Livingstone said on December 15, he was told that a vessel estimated to be carrying up to 60 people required immediate attention, and he called on the Pirie's crew to get ready for the imminent boarding of the boat. He said the Pirie's crew members started to pull people into the inflatables and they soon became aware they had less survivors than deceased. He also told the court he had to coordinate the operation so that the survivors would not see the deceased. After people had been taken to shore, the Pirie went back to search for more survivors and bodies, but found none. The inquest continues.

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Keywords

community-and-society , immigration, navy, disasters-and-accidents, accidents, maritime-accidents, law-crime-and-justice, refugees, australia, wa, christmas-island-6798