Missing boat carrying at least 100 Indians likely heading to New Zealand, says police; multi-agency search operation underway

New Delhi/Kochi: A fishing boat that could contain more than 100 Indian migrants may be heading to New Zealand, police said on Monday. The boat, which is carrying people from New Delhi and Tamil Nadu, left Munambam harbour in Kerala on 12 January, two officers involved in the case told Reuters.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

An individual from New Delhi arrested in connection with the investigation, Prabhu Dhandapani, told the police that the boat was heading to New Zealand, according to both officers. Estimates of the number of people on board vary between 100 and 200 people, including women and children, they said.

Police have recovered more than 70 bags left behind by the migrants, as well as around 20 identification documents, officer VG Ravindran said. “The bags are full of dry goods and clothes, suggesting they were preparing for a long journey,” said officer MJ Sojan.

“The people and boat are missing somewhere in the sea. Many agencies including the Coast Guard are trying to locate the boat.”

For the migrants to reach New Zealand, they will need to travel more than 1,000 kilometres through some of the roughest seas in the world. Cyclones and storms are common in the straits between Indonesia and Australia, the most likely route for the boat.

A spokesman for New Zealand’s department of immigration was not immediately available for comment.

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Updated Date: Jan 22, 2019 15:10:29 IST

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