SIKAKAP, Indonesia - Indonesian police say they have picked up 43 starving, dehydrated people who were adrift in a boat for nine days after their engine broke down while fleeing Sri Lanka in hopes of reaching Australia.
Police Capt. Abdurachman Suryanegara in the Western Indonesian town of Sikakap says fishermen discovered the stricken boat off Mentawai island off Sumatra and towed it ashore on Friday.
He says the passengers include four women and three children. Their engine broke down nine days earlier, and they had run out of food and water.
They told investigators they were fleeing violence in Sri Lanka and hoping to seek asylum in Australia.
Indonesia has become a major transit point for people fleeing war-torn countries like Afghanistan, Iraq and Sri Lanka.