The Royal Australian Navy intercepted yesterday a ship carrying a large group of illegal immigrants towards the shores of Western Australia. The not-quite-seaworthy vessel arrived from Indonesia, the usual transit point for people smuggling operations. The immigrants - men, women and children appear to be coming from a Middle East country. They will be detained in a special center in the North of Australia until the authorities make further decisions. In the last two weeks the Navy apprehended 750 illegal immigrants, including 100 children, coming from various Middle Eastern states via Indonesia. Most ships attempting a clandestine landing carry 30 to 40 people. Some of them arrive, however, with over 100 illegal travelers on board.. The Navy discovered last year 50 illegal landings involving over 3000 illegal immigrants. The Australian Immigration Minister Mr. Philip Ruddock disclosed yesterday that 108 participants of the Sydney Olympic Games 2000 decided to remain in Australia without authorization. The group, coming from 61 countries, includes 11 Americans, 8 British nationals and smaller numbers of guests from other nations - including Spain, Nigeria, Germany, Japan and Russia. The spokesman for the Minister said yesterday: "We want those people to go home".

By Henry L. Marconi, Australia, Sydney

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