Many feared dead in Australia asylum shipwreck

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SYDNEY. December 15. KAZINFORM Many people are feared to have drowned after a boat carrying suspected asylum seekers crashed into rocks on Australia's Christmas Island; Kazinform refers to BBC News.

Pictures from the scene showed the boat, which was thought to be carrying dozens of people, smashed to pieces.

Witnesses said they could do little to help as the seas were too rough to approach the boat.

The boat appeared to be trying to land at Christmas Island, where Australia has an immigration detention centre.

The BBC's Nick Bryant, in Sydney, says he understands that about 70 people were on the vessel and about 40 were rescued.

Acting Prime Minister Wayne Swan, standing in for Julia Gillard while she is on holiday, confirmed that some people had died but could not say how many.

"A number of people have been rescued, but sadly some bodies have been retrieved."

See www.bbc.co.uk for full version.

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