Some 106 people were plucked to safety from a sinking asylum-seeker boat off Australia Tuesday as rescuers averted disaster just weeks from an election in which boatpeople are a key issue.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) earlier reported a vessel with about 105 people on board was in trouble 120 nautical miles north of the Australian territory of Christmas Island.
AMSA had received a request for assistance from someone onboard and a navy ship and a customs and border protection aircraft responded. A merchant boat also joined the rescue effort.
"The vessel was upright, but partially submerged. A number of people were sighted in the water," an AMSA spokeswoman said.
"As at 3:30 pm (0530 GMT) HMAS Parramatta has reportedly recovered 106 people from the water.
"Two people are reported to have minor injuries. Search and rescue operations continue."
She did not say if everyone had been accounted for, only that another naval ship, HMAS Pirie, was sailing to the area to help.
Asylum-seekers are a sensitive issue in Australia as their numbers increase, with more than 18,000 arriving so far in 2013.
Hundreds have drowned en route, most recently last month when a boat heading for Australia capsized off Indonesia leaving at least 15 dead, including six children.
The latest close call came as Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr and Immigration Minister Tony Burke were in Jakarta for regional talks on people-smuggling.
Among others represented in the Indonesian capital are Afghanistan and Sri Lanka -- the origin countries of many asylum-seekers who arrive in Australia after perilous sea journeys.
However, no delegates from Iran turned up even though it is the country that sends the most asylum-seekers into Australian waters.
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's Labor party last month unveiled a tough new policy banishing boatpeople arriving in Australia to Papua New Guinea for processing and resettlement even if they are genuine refugees.
The party has claimed the hardline stance is working, citing widespread evidence from Indonesia that asylum-seekers are demanding their money back from people-smugglers.
Rudd, who is trailing in the opinion polls to conservative rival Tony Abbott ahead of the September 7 election, has gambled his fortunes on the PNG circuit-breaker.
While it has slowed the flow of smuggling boats, several have been intercepted in the past few days.
Abbott has pledged his own crackdown that would see all refugees put on three-year temporary visas and forced into a work-for-welfare programme without family reunion, appeal or permanent residency rights.