Seven people claiming to be Indonesians landed a fishing boat on a remote northwestern Australian beach and asked locals for directions to the nearest city, the government said Monday.
The four men, one woman and two infants arrived in a small boat at Honeymoon Beach in the far north of Western Australia state on Saturday, and have been detained by the Immigration Department. Authorities tethered their small vessel to a naval patrol boat.
Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone said the group, who claimed they were from the Indonesian province of West Timor, about 500 kilometers (310 miles) across the Timor Sea, had not asked for asylum. If they seek protection, they will be the first asylum seekers apprehended in Australia in more than two years.
Asylum Seeker Resource Center spokeswoman Pamela Curr said she suspected they would ask to stay.
"They may not have asked for the specific form indicating they were designated asylum seekers, but if they're coming down in a little fishing boat from West Timor, they're seeking protection," she said. Curr did not elaborate on why they might have fled Indonesia.
Les Davey, 23, who lives at Honeymoon Beach near the community of Kalumburu, said three men from the boat walked up the beach to ask him for directions.
"I told them Kalumburu was a small community ... but they were looking for the nearest city, and the nearest big place is Wyndham so I sent them there," he said, referring to a coastal town with a population of about 850 people, reports the AP. I.L.
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