MELBOURNE, July 13 (Xinhua) -- The Australian government said on Saturday that a asylum seekers' boat sank close to the country' s northwestern Christmas Island on Friday night, leaving at least one baby boy dead and eight others missing, while 88 survivors were rescued.
According to Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare, the human- smuggling boat carring 97 people from Iran, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka issued a distress call Friday morning.
"Our officers rescued 88 people and they have recovered the body of a little baby boy," Clare told reporters, adding the search and rescue operation is still underway.
The incident occured about 87 nautical miles (161 km) north of Christmas Island located between Indonesia and Australia, the authorities received initial report at approximately 11:15 am local time on Friday suggesting the vessel was in need of assistance, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said in a statement.
The rescue team arrived in the site at 10 pm Friday night and the boat capsized at about 10:30 pm, an estimated eight people were missing except the deceased and rescued, the statement said, adding a search of a 285 square nautical mile area involving two contracted aircraft and a Defence P-3 Orion aircraft began at first light of Saturday.
Thousands of asylum seekers choose Indonesia as a transit to sneak into neighboring Australia by sea every year. However, many of them were killed on the perilous journey.
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said the "genuine human tragedy" of the incident indicated the government needs to keep adjusting its border protection policies.