COLOMBO, Aug. 7 (Xinhua) -- Two boatloads of illegal migrants have been arrested in Sri Lanka while attempting to reach Australia, bringing the number of asylum seekers arrested within the last two days to 67, an officials said Tuesday.
Sri Lankan navy arrested on Tuesday morning 26 people that were sailing to Australia, about 10 to 15 nautical miles from the island nation, said the police.
This raised concerns that the number would continue to rise this month. "The two trawlers had set off from the eastern coast of the country and most of the people on board were Tamil or Sinhalese," said police spokesman Ajith Rohana.
In July alone, more than 530 people were detained by Sri Lankan authorities while attempting to illegally migrate to Australia.
Australian authorities said that over the past month, the number of asylum seekers have trebled, catching up with the figure in 2009 when Sri Lanka ended a three decade conflict.
In the first half of this year, more than 1,300 asylum seekers claiming to have come from Sri Lanka have arrived in Australian territory.