THE Australian Defence Force has released dramatic photos of the moments after a boat with suspected asylum seekers burst into flames.
The images reveal the tense moments immediately after an explosion onboard a fishing boat crammed with suspected asylum seekers northwest of Australia.
The deadly incident, which occurred last week, is at the centre of a renewed debate over Australia’s immigration laws amid a surge in people fleeing their troubled homelands, The Courier-Mail reports.
The ADF early this morning released a sequence of 24 photographs shot during last week’s rescue. The images were earlier cleared by the Northern Territory Police and Coroner.
The cause of the blast - which left five suspected asylum seekers dead and dozens fighting for their lives in hospitals around Australia, including Brisbane - is under investigation to determine if it was an accident or sabotage.
These new images show the desperate scramble of ADF personnel to administer first aid to the injured Afghani asylum seekers before they were evacuated for specialist treatment.
The ADF also released a chronology of events detailing the emergency efforts after the explosion near Ashmore Reef on Thursday, April 16.
The blast happened at 8.15am (AEDT) and nine Defence Force personnel were onboard the intercepted fishing boat at the time. Five ADF personnel received minor injuries.
HMAS Childers and HMAS Albany recovered all survivors from the water within 15 minutes, the ADF said in a statement.
The ADF statement on the timing of events:
At around 8.15 am (AEDT) Thursday, April 16, 2009 there was an explosion on board a foreign vessel that was intercepted the previous day in the vicinity of Ashmore Reef.
The events surrounding the incident occurred in the following order:
An explosion occurred on board the intercepted vessel at 8.15am (AEDT).
Nine ADF personnel were on board the intercepted vessel at the time of the explosion.
HMAS Childers and HMAS Albany recovered all survivors from the water within about 15 minutes.
The search continued.
Multiple casualties resulted from the explosion with three people deceased and two people reported missing.
All ADF personnel were accounted for.
Medical assistance was rendered by ADF personnel via triage to casualties.
Five ADF personnel presented with minor injuries and were administered first aid.
Headquarters Northern Command (HQNORCOM) arranged Casualty Evacuation supported by the Northern Territory and West Australian State and Commonwealth agencies.
Air Force AP-3C Orions and Customs and Border Protection DASH 8 aircraft conducted a Search and Rescue operation for the two missing persons under the control of AMSA (Rescue Co-ordination Centre).
The Patrol Boats proceeded to FPSO Front Puffin for casualty evacuation.
AP-3C Orions conducted a box-drop of additional medical supplies to the Patrol Boats.
A Medical Triage facility was established at Truscott and on the Front Puffin.
HMAS Childers and HMAS Albany transferred the high priority casualties to Front Puffin for triage and evacuation.
HMAS Childers remained alongside Front Puffin until all casualties had been evacuated.
HMAS Albany departed after disembarking her high priority casualties for high speed transit to Darwin.
The high priority casualties were transferred from Front Puffin to Truscott by CSC helicopter.
At Truscott the casualties were again triaged and flown to specialist facilities in Darwin, Broome, Perth or Brisbane hospitals for medical assistance.
Upon arrival in Darwin HMAS Albany was met by paramedical staff and other government agency staff to assist the casualty reception on April 17, 2009 at 1.30pm (AEDT).
HMAS Childers arrived in Darwin on April 17, 2009 at 4.30pm (AEDT).
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