April 16, 2009 11:38am
THREE people have been killed and two are missing after a boat explosion on a vessel carrying 49-asylum seekers off the coast of WA.
Police have said that several other people are injured, but cannot confirm numbers.
Police say the explosion happened in the engine compartment of a vessel that was carrying a boatload of suspected asylum seekers from Ashmore Reef to Christmas Island.
Sgt Lambert from West Australian police said a navy vessel was towing the stricken boat to Darwin when the incident occurred.
"It is believed an explosion has occurred in the engine compartment of a vessel," Sgt Lambert said.
"It is believed that three people have been killed, two people are missing and others are injured, numbers are not yet known."
It's unclear whether any naval personnel were injured in the explosion.
Home Affairs Minister Bob Debus is expected to release a statement shortly.
The vessel is being towed to Darwin. Border protection authorities are investigating.