Colombo, July 31 (IANS) The Sri Lankan navy Wednesday stopped a boat heading to Australia with at least 115 people on board, a navy spokesman said.
Spokesman Kosala Warnakulasuriya said the boat with would-be asylum seekers was stopped in the eastern seas off Batticaloa, reports Xinhua.
He said the exact figure of the number of people on the boat was not known as it was being escorted to a port.
The boat was stopped half way through its journey.
Australia has announced that under new rules, anyone, including Sri Lankans, who reach Australia by boat without visa will no longer have the chance to settle in Australia.
"If they are not quickly returned to Colombo, they will be taken to Papua New Guinea where their claims will be assessed," the Australian High Commission in Colombo said last week.
If people are found to be refugees, they will be permanently settled in Papua New Guinea, not in Australia.
Around 1,300 Sri Lankans have been sent home from Australia since August 2012, nearly 1,100 of them involuntarily.