55 refugees missing at sea off Australia

AFP-JIJI

Australian authorities said Monday they had called off a major air and sea search for survivors from a boat carrying at least 55 asylum-seekers that disappeared suddenly off a remote Indian Ocean territory.

Officials late Sunday halted the search for the vessel — which was seen before it went down carrying men, women and children — off Christmas Island after failing to find anyone alive.

Up to 13 bodies were spotted in the water during the extensive search.