Afghanistan/Indoneisa — The death toll is rising as rescuers continue to search the waters off the coast of Sumatra for survivors of a ship wreck.
A wooden boat packed with Afghan migrants sank off early Thursday in the choppy water of the Malacca Strait off of western Indonesia.
The Indonesian navy says at least nine people have died and 11 others are missing. Fishermen plucked more than a dozen people from the water about 30 miles from land.
The Afghan men tell authorities they had flown from Afghanistan to Malaysia, where human traffickers offered to help them get by boat to Australia. They say, about nine hours into the journey, they ran into a dark, thick haze triggered by land-clearing forest fires. That’s when their boat slammed into a fishing platform, got hit by high waves and capsized.
The survivors are now asking Indonesian authorities for political asylum because of the security situation in their homeland.