Indonesian police have arrested crew members of an asylum seeker boat which sank off the coast of west Java on Tuesday.

Of the 60 people on board, eight died, and another four remain missing.

Amy Partington reports.


Each crew member could face five years in jail for breaching immigration and maritime laws according to the local police commander.

A survivor of the tragedy has told the ABC, passengers had begged the captain to take them back to shore before the ship sank.

He paid US$9,000 to the people smugglers hoping to secure his families safety in Australia.

Those passengers who survived are now in the hands of Indonesian immigration authorities who consider them illegal immigrants.

The tragedy has reignited debate in Australian parliament, over the need to find a solution for refugee processing in Australia.

Amy Partington, QUT News.