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Australian Border Deaths Database

The Australian Border Deaths Database maintains a record of all known deaths associated with Australia’s borders since 1 January 2000.

The database was begun by Professor Sharon Pickering and Dr Leanne Weber as part of BOb’s Deaths at the Global Frontier project, culminating in the publication of the book Globalization and Borders: Death at the Global Frontier in 2011.

The Border Crossing Observatory continues to periodically update The Australian Border Deaths Database in line with the methodology detailed in Globalization and Borders: Death at the Global Frontier

The most recent version (see below) records deaths at the Australian frontier for the period 1 January 2000 – October 2014, with a recorded 1,969+ border deaths.

Download a Microsoft Excel version of the table with a history of amendments here.

SBS has developed a visual representation of our Australian Border Deaths Database with methodology notes, hosted on their website.

If you would like to report a border death to us please email bcrossingobservatory@gmail.com

Date No. Deaths Personal Details Incident Details Death in Immigration Custody
25-Mar-00 220 Middle Eastern men, women and children reported to be on board. 220 passengers on board, believed heading to Christmas Island from the west coast of Java, Indonesia. The boat went missing at sea enroute and all passengers are believed to have drowned. All passengers on board were believed to be from the Middle East. It is known that the boat was carrying men, women and children although a breakdown of these numbers is no known. Although the Howard Government claimed that this boat went missing with all on board presumed drowned, none of these deaths have been substantiated/confirmed by the government.
00-Mar-00 80 Unknown 80 persons estimated to be on board the boat believed to be heading to Ashmore Reef from Kupang, West Timor, Indonesia. It is reported that this boat left around the same time as the boat listed in the entry above and went missing at sea enroute to Australia with all on board presumed dead. It was not reported if the passengers on board were men, women or children. Nationalities were also not reported. Although the Howard Government claimed that this boat went missing with all on board presumed drowned, none of these deaths have been substantiated/confirmed by the government.
00-Mar-00 70 Unknown Boat carrying 60-80 passengers believed to have sank after it left Java around the same time as the previous two entries above. We have recorded the median number of 70 deaths. It was not reported if/how many men, women or children were on board. Nationalities were also not reported. Although the Howard Government claimed that this boat went missing with all on board presumed drowned, none of these deaths have been substantiated/confirmed by the government.
21-Dec-00 3 Unknown Vessel (raft) codenamed “Rosalie’ crossing from Lagrange Island (Western Australia). Victims died while searching for water.
22-Dec-00 1 Villiami Tanginoa, Tongan, male, 52 Died after plummeting from basketball pole at Maribyrnong Detention Centre, Melbourne after altercation with guards. Onshore immigration detention centre
24-Jan-01 1 Hai Phuc Vo, Vietnamese, male Died in Western General Hospital, Melbourne after being transferred from Port Phillip Prison. Onshore immigration detention centre
29-May-01 1 Sharaz Kayani, Pakistani, male, 48 Set himself on fire outside Parliament House, Canberra because family’s application to migrate was denied.
23-Jun-01 1 Mohammed Saleh, Palestinian, male, 41 Died of medical condition in Hollywood Private Hospital, Perth after being transported from Port Hedland Immigration Detention Centre. Onshore immigration detention centre
25-Jul-01 1 Avion Gumede, South African, male, 30 Killed himself after arriving at Sydney Airport and being detained in Villawood Immigration Detention Centre, Sydney. Onshore immigration detention centre
1-Sep-01 1 Unknown Afghan, newborn baby, male Died due to lack of medical care on board refugee vessel during Operation Relex interception at Ashmore Reef, off the coast of Western Australia; first interception post Tampa. Interdiction at sea by Australian border control
6-Sep-01 2 Said Sakhi, Afghan, Male, 20 and Murtaza Roni, Afghan, Male, infant Drowned when refugee boat ‘KM Harapan Jaya II’ hit rocks off Indonesia enroute to Australia.
26-Sep-01 1 Puangthong Simaplee, Thai, Female, 25 Trafficked into Austraila for sexual exploitation age 12, heroin addiction, died of medical condition in Villawood Immigration Detention Centre, Sydney. Onshore immigration detention centre
19-Oct-01 353 146 children, 142 women, 65 men, all Iraqi or Afghan Drowned after refugee vessel codenamed ‘SIEV X’ sank off Indonesia, but in Australian aerial border protection surveillance zone.
1-Nov-01 3 Hussein Yahia aged 30; Thamer Hussein and Haithem Dawood, all males, Iraqis. At least three named asylum seekers feared drowned at Roti Island, Indonesia, after their boat, enroute to Australia was forced back by navy. Interdiction at sea by Australian border control
8-Nov-01 2 Nurjan Husseini, Afghan, female, 55 and Fatima Husseini, Afghan, female, 20 Passengers on refugee boat ‘Sumber Lestari’ drowned during operation Relex off Christmas Island. Interdiction at sea by Australian border control
13-Jan-02 1 Thi Hang Ley, Vietnamese, female Killed herself after being detained in Villawood Immigration Detention Centre, Sydney, for overstaying visa. This was her 3rd suicide attempt. Onshore immigration detention centre
16-Mar-02 1 Alexander Nikolaevich Vasilkov, Russian, male, 44 Died in Fremantle Hospital Perth after being detained in port for illegal fishing. Onshore immigration detention
26-Aug-02 1 Mohammed Sarwar, male Died in Nauru Detention Centre. Offshore immigration detention centre
1-Nov-02 1 Nader, male, Iranian Disappeared on return to Iran, presumed killed after a forced return from Australia.
1-Dec-02 1 Unknown, male, Afghan Killed on return to Afghanistan from Australia under the Australian Government reintegration assistance package.
19-Jan-03 1 Fatima Irfani, Afghan, female, 29 Died in Sir Charles Gardener Hospital, Perth, of bleeding in her brain after transfer from Christmas Island. Offshore immigration detention centre
3-Feb-03 1 Dr Habuibullah Wahedy, Afghan, male, 46 Killed himself at Murray Bridge, South Australia, after the Immigration Department said his Temporary Protection Visa would soon expire and encouraged him to return to Afghanistan.
26-Feb-03 1 Mansur la Ibu, Indonesian, male, 20 Detained illegal fisherman, died on his own boat “Yamdena” in Darwin Harbour. Onshore immigration detention
19-Jun-03 1 Quoc Kinh Phung, Vietnamese, male Died in Western General Hospital, Melbourne, after being transferred from Maribyrnong Immigration Detention Centre, Melbourne. Onshore immigration detention centre
1-Jul-04 1 Seong Ho Kang, South Korean, male Run over by a taxi in Strathfield, Sydney, after being pursued on foot by DIAC Law Enforcement Unit. Death during pursuit by Department of Immigration Compliance Officers
29-Aug-04 1 Marc Lao Thao, French, male Died in Villawood Immigration Detention Centre, Sydney. Onshore immigration detention centre
25-Mar-05 1 Unknown, male Died in Maribyrnong Immigration Detention Centre, Melbourne. Onshore immigration detention centre
28-Apr-05 1 Mohammed Heri, Indonesian, male, 37 Detained illegal fisherman, died on his own boat “Gurung Mas Baru” in Darwin Harbour. Onshore immigration detention
20-Aug-05 1 Mrs Aziz Yaukob Agha, Syrian, female, 70 Died of medical condition at son’s home in Melbourne after refusal of visa extension and imminent deportation.
9-Sep-06 11 Unknown, Afghans, two females aged 6 and 9, and nine males All eleven victims murdered in their homes in Afghanistan by locals calling them ‘spies’, after being deported as a group from Australia.
11-Sep-06 1 Wah Aun Chan, Malaysian, male, 27 Drowned in River Murray after running from police near Waikerie on the Sturt Highway, South Australia.  Death from drowning after escaping police custody
13-Jan-08 1 Mr Fashovar, Iranian, male, 62 Died of a medical condition in Villawood Immigration Detention Centre, Sydney. Onshore immigration detention centre
16-Jun-08 1 Mr Zhang, Chinese, male Committed suicide after being deported to China, feared persecution and torture in China.
unknown (reported 2008) 1 Mr Cai, Chinese, male Died in China after deportation from Villawood Immigration Detention Centre, Sydney.
unknown (reported 2008) 1 Mr Mack, male, 76 Died in Villawood Immigration Detention Centre, Sydney, following surgery for a medical condition. Onshore immigration detention centre
14-Jan-09 9 Afghans including 9-year old boy named Muneer Ahmad Iqbal and his father (adult male) Nawrooz Ali. Boat capsized enroute to Australia in Rote Strait off Kupang, Indonesia. All onboard were Afghan citizens who had escaped from Kupang immigration detention centre. The Australian government has not confirmed these deaths.
16-Apr-09 5 Mohammed Hassan Ayubi 45, Muzafar Ali Sefarali 45, Mohammed Amen Zamen 38, Awar Nader 50, Baquer Husani 26, all Afghan males Died as a result of explosion on boat codenamed ‘SIEV 36′ during naval interception at Ashmore Reef. Interdiction at sea by Australian border control
5-Oct-09 105 Barkat Ali, male, Afghan, 25 years old; Habib Hedari, male, Afghan, teenager; the rest unknown, Afghans. Women and children reported to be on board. Boat lost at sea enroute to Australia 17 nautical miles off the coast of Java in Indonesian waters. No bodies were ever found.
1-Nov-09 12 10 adult males, 2 juvenile males, nationalities not reported SIEV 69 boat located in distress 350 nautical miles off Cocos (Keeling) Islands, intercepted by Australian Customs and Border Protection. 27 people rescued, 1 body recovered, 11 people lost at sea. Interdiction at sea by Australian border control
7-Dec-09 1 David Moore, Scottish, male, 43 Died 2 days after arrival in London after being deported from Australia.
30-Apr-10 5 Unknown, Sri Lankan, males Drowned after abandoning SIEV 143 refugee vessel to seek help. 59 rescued by Russian merchant vessel. Government had prior knowledge of vessel being in the vicinity of the Cocos Islands. The AFP will conduct an investigation into the missing 5 people.
7-Jun-10 12 Thileep Kumar and Bahirathan, both Sri Lankan, and ten Afghans, all male Drowned off the coast of Indonesia while changing from a large boat to a smaller boat-second attempt for Sri Lankans after previous interception.
23-Aug-10 1 Unknown, Afghan, male, 30 Died Sir Charles Gardener Hospital, Perth, Western Australia, of a medical condition after being found unconscious at the Curtin Immigration Detention Centre. Onshore immigration detention centre
20-Sep-10 1 Josefa Rauluni, Fijian, male, 36 Jumped off a roof at Villawood Immigration Detention Centre, Sydney, hours before he was to be deported. Onshore immigration detention centre
14-Nov-10 97 Hamed el Ibrahimi, 17 years old, male; Mohammed Rezai, male; Ahmed Haddad Mohammed Otham, male, 43 years old; Zia Sediqi; Abdul Udud Rahmani, male; Abdul Hai Rahmani, male; all others unknown Boat feared lost at sea enroute from Indonesia. No direct confirmation of sinking, but relatives in Australia report no contact following embarkation on 13 November 2010.
16-Nov-10 1 Ahmad al-Akabi, Iraqi, male, 40 Committed suicide at Villawood Immgration Detention Centre, Sydney, after refugee application was rejected twice. Onshore immigration detention centre
8-Dec-10 1 David Saunders, British, male, 29 Committed suicide at Villawood Immgration Detention Centre, Sydney. Onshore immigration detention centre
15-Dec-10 50 Three male and three female children including infants, and estimated 42 adults, all either Iranian, Iraqi or Kurd Drowned after refugee boat codenamed ‘SIEV 221′ crashed onto rocks on Christmas Island, 30 bodies recovered. 42 survivors.
18-Mar-11 1 Miqdad Hussain, Afghan, male, 20 Found dead in detention centre in Weipa, QLD, by staff. Suspected suicide. Onshore immigration detention centre
27-Mar-11 1 Mohammad Asif Ata, Afghan, male, 19 Found dead in detention centre, Curtin, Western Australia by other detainees. Suspected suicide. Onshore immigration detention centre
22-Jul-11 1 Afghan Irregular Maritime Arrival died in community detention in Victoria Onshore immigration detention centre
26-Oct-11 1 Sri Lankan Sri Lankan Irregular Maritime Arrival died at Sydney Immigration Residential Housing . Onshore immigration detention centre
1-Nov-11 30 4 adult women, 4 children The boat foundered 5 nautical miles off south Java coast. 75 passengers on board, 8 confirmed drownings, 22 missing presumed drowned. Indonesian authorities conducted the rescue of 45 passengers.
17-Dec-11 201 Unknown, Afghan/Iranian, men and women reported on board. 103 confirmed dead, 98 unacccounted for after boat called Barokah (reportedly carrying 250 refugees) capsized off East Java, enroute to Australia. 49 rescued.
1-Feb-12 11 Afghan, Pakistani and Iraqi The boat sank off the coast of Malaysia, enroute to Australia. Around 25 passengers on board, 18 rescued. 4 Pakistanis and 1 Afghan known to have drowned.
27-Feb-12 1 Ali Rahimi, Iranian, male, 44 Died in hospital of heart attack, possibly caused by anxiety suffered after time in detention at Villawood and repeated rejection of asylum claim. Onshore immigration detention centre
27-Feb-12 1 Iranian The Iranian national, who was detained in relation to visa compliance issues, died at Sydney Immigration Residential Housing. Onshore immigration detention centre
22-May-12 25 Afghans, Taufeeq Ullah, Mohammad Amin, Shabbir, Nadir, Raza, Ishaq, the rest names unknown. The boat carrying 25 passengers is known to have left Indonesia on May 22, 2012 and has been missing at sea since. It is presumed all on board have drowned enroute to Christmas Island. The boat has not been found and relatives in Australia of those on board have not heard from them since the boat left Indonesia.This incident was not reported in the Australian media or by the government.
5-Jun-12 1 Sri Lankan The Sri Lankan Irregular Maritime Arrival died in community detention in NSW. Onshore immigration detention centre
21-Jun-12 92 Unknown, Afghan and Pakistani men and 9 unaccompanied boys including one 15 year old. Boat carrying 200 asylum seekers capsized around 200km north of Christmas Island, en route to Australia from Indonesia, Afghan and Pakistani men and children on boat, 17 bodies recovered, 75, possibly more, still missing (presumed drowned), 110 rescued, including one 13 year old boy. Those rescued taken to Christmas Island.
27-Jun-12 4 Unknown Boat carrying 134 asylum seekers capsized off Christmas Island enroute to Australia from Indonesia, 130 people rescued, 1 body recovered, 3 people still missing.
30-Jun-12 67 Unknown Missing at sea presumed drowned. Boat lost at sea off Indonesian coast, bound for Australia. Australian media reported 67 on board but Australian Government has no evidence to confirm this.
12-Aug-12 24 Afghans, Fazil Hussain, Muhammad Jawad, Sandigh Noor Ahmad, Nasrollah Najafi, Amin Razaee, Nassrollah Amiri, Tahereh Najafi, Seeyed Anvar Mosavi, the rest unknown The boat carrying 24 passengers is known to have left Indonesia bound for Christmas Island, however relatives in Australia of those on board have not heard of their arrival. The boat is missing at sea with those on board presumed drowned. This incident was not reported by the Australian media or government.
14-Aug-12 67 Palestinians, including at least 1 child The boat was known to have left Indonesia on June 28 and there is no evidence to show this boat arrived in Australia. 67 passengers on board, lost at sea enroute to Australia.
16-Aug-12 1 Unknown, male Man fell overboard when boat carrying 68 asylum seekers, bound for Christmas Island, was intercepted by a merchant vessel off Java coast.
30-Aug-12 95 Unknown, males, females and children, 10 women and girls reported drowned including one 3-4 month old baby girl and Hameeda, 29 year old woman. All Hazara from Afghanistan and Pakistan. Boat capsized off Indonesian coast, bound for Christmas Island. 55 survivors pulled from the water between 24-48 hours following the capsize and returned to Indonesia. 1 deceased pulled from the water, 94 people still missing, feared drowned. 150 reported onboard.
26-Oct-12 33 Enayatullah Hussaini, male; Taqi Bahadari, male; Mohammad Jawad, male, 40 years old; the rest unknown males, Pakistani and Hazara Drowned enroute to Christmas Island when their asylum boat engine failed and the boat began to sink. Those on board were forced into the water. One survivor was picked up by an Indonesian fishing vessel and returned to Indonesia.
15-Nov-12 1 Unknown Male, Hazara Died enroute to Christmas Island onboard asylum boat. The man had died onboard the boat, most likely of natural causes. His death was discovered by Australian authorities who intercepted and boarded the boat north east of Christmas Island following calls from the boat that the man onboard was unwell. Interdiction at sea by Australian border control
29-Jan-13 4 3 males and 1 female, Sri Lankan Boat found crippled on a reef off Indonesia by local fishermen. Had allegedly been at sea for 2 months. 2 men drowned when they jumped overboard once Indonesian authorities had approached and one man is missing after also jumping overboard. 2 people, 1 man and 1 woman were found dead on board the boat. 22 rescued by Indonesian authorities and taken to immigration detention on Indonesia.
30-Jan-13 3 3 males 3 Burmese asylum seekers are missing at sea after one of their Indonesian crewmen ‘washed up’ on the shores of Christmas Island. The crewman claimed that after his boat broke down 17 nautical miles north of the Island, he made a make-shift raft to take the three Burmese men to Christmas Island. The raft broke up during the journey and the men have not yet been found. The air search at sea has been suspended and the men are presumed drowned.
29-Mar-13 2 1 female (pregnant) 22 years and 1 boy, 4 years, Afghan The woman and child drowned following interception by Australian Customs when their fishing boat capsized 15 nautical miles from Christmas Island. 95 people on board, 93 rescued. Australian Customs had been monitoring this boat for some time before interception. Interdiction at sea by Australian border control
11-Apr-13 58 Rehmatullah Muhammad Kan, male; Mahidi Fidayee, 16 years, male; Abdul Aziz, 63 years, male; Ibar Hussain Rajabi, 17 years, male; the rest unknown, all Afghan Boat lost at sea in Sundra Strait off Indonesian coast carrying 72 asylum seekers bound for Australia. 14 survivors found, 5 confirmed deaths, 53 missing presumed drowned.
20-Apr-13 1 Papua New Guinean, male, 33 years The man from Villawood Immigration Detention Centre fell out of a window and died whilst in Liverpool hospital, Sydney where he was receiving medical treatment. Onshore immigration detention centre
1-May-13 1 Sri Lankan, male, 35 yrs old Died shortly after arrival on Christmas Island from cardiac arrest. Offshore immigration detention centre
5-May-13 2 Iranian adult males, Sajad and Meisan. Drowned after making a makeshift raft and sailing it to seek help after asylum seeker boat was left without food, water and power. 46 other passengers stayed on board and were rescued after being located by Australian surveillance aircraft 110 nautical miles off Christmas Island.
1-Jun-13 1 Unknown, male, 52 years The 52-year-old man was transferred from the processing area at Christmas Island Immigration Detention Centre to hospital within hours of landing. He was one of 157 people aboard 2 boats that reached Australian waters within 48 hours of each other. Offshore immigration detention centre
7-Jun-13 55 Unknown, Afghans, mostly men, small number of women and children on board. An estimated 55 people have drowned after their boat sank off Christmas Island, travelling from Indonesia. Australian Customs and Border Protection made the decision not to retrieve the bodies in favour of attending to other asylum seeker boat arrivals in the area. 13 bodies have since been recovered from the water near Christmas Island. The recovery effort will not continue.
9-Jun-13 34 Sri Lankans The Sri Lakan boat ‘Jayawe’ went missing NW of the Cocos Islands despite a 3-day search and rescue operation conducted by AMSA. All on board presumed drowned.
15-Jun-13 1 Afghan, male, 62 years Died in the Wickham Point detention centre near Darwin, after staff found him unconscious. NT police are investigating his death. Onshore immigration detention centre
16-Jun-13 1 Unknown woman Woman found dead on board asylum seeker boat carrying 60 people intercepted by Australian Customs and Border Patrol off Christmas Island. Circumstances surrounding her death are currently unknown. Interdiction at sea by Australian border control
20-Jun-13 1 Ali Ahmad Jafari, 26 yr old, Hazara, male Collapsed and died in Villawood Immigration Detention Centre. Unsuccessful efforts made to revive him. DIAC statement says Jafari died of natural causes. Onshore immigration detention centre
12-Jul-13 9 Baby, under 1 year old, boy, 8 missing presumed dead Boat carrying 97 asylum seekers sank north of Christmas Island. The body of a boy less than a year old was recovered by Australian search and rescue teams. 8 people are still missing, presumed drowned. The search has been called off, survivors taken to Christmas Island. Interdiction at sea by Australian border control
16-Jul-13 4 2 women aged late 20s/early 30s, 1 man in his 20s and 1 man in his 30s. Drowned after boat was intercepted by Australian customs who responded to its distress signal as boat was capsizing off the coast of Christmas Island in rough seas. 144 on board. Interdiction at sea by Australian border control
24-Jul-13 20 1 baby (under 1 year); 1 boy around 5 years old; 1 girl aged 6 years; 3 children aged 7, 10 and 12 years; 1 adult male; Nithya, adult Sri Lankan female is missing; Sarimah, adult Iranian female, Sarimah; Baremithan Balamanaran, Sri Lankan boy aged 3. Others unknown, Iraqis, Afghans, Sri Lankans and Iranians. Boat capsized off Java coast enroute to Australia. 189 rescued by Indonesian authorities with approximately 40 children. 10 known fatalities including children. Majority of passengers reported to be Iranian and Iraqi with others from Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.
27-Sep-13 36 Lebanese, Iranian, Iraqi & Africans, reportedly mostly children under 15 who drowned because they could not swim. 8 children known to have drowned and one pregnant woman. The boat sank off Java enroute to Australia. 36 people are confirmed drowned including a number of children. News reports say the death toll may rise to 70. 25 rescued. Reports of between 63-125 on board.
9-Dec-13 3 Iranian and ethnic Rohingya The boat, carrying 30 asylum seekers, sank off the coast of Java, bound for Australia. Three deaths including one two year old child.
5-Feb-14 1 Rezene Mebrahta Engeda, 30 year old, Eritrean man Rezene Mebrahta Engeda drowned himself in the Maribyrnong River, Victoria upon notice of a failed asylum application and letter to attend a meeting with DIBP where he assumed he would be told of his pending deportation to Eritrea.
13-Feb-14 1 Indian man, 27 years old The man hung himself in Maribyrnong Immigration Detention Centre. He had been detained since January 2014 for overstaying his student visa. Victorian Police are investigating his death. Onshore immigration detention centre
17-Feb-14 1 Reza Barati, 24 years old, Iranian man Reza Barati died of head injuries on the way to Lorengau hospital in PNG following protests at the Manus Island Immigration Detention Centre. Violence resulted in the injury of 77 others, 12 seriously. Offshore immigration detention centre
1-Jun-14 1 Leo Seemanpillai, 29 years old, Sri Lankan man Leo Semmanpillai died as a result of self immolation, suffering burns to 90% of his body. He had been living in community detention on a bridging visa awaiting the outcome of his refugee claim.
5-Sep-14 1 Hamid Kehazaei, 24 years old, Iranian man Kehazaei had been admitted to Mater Hospital, Brisbane from Manus Island where he had developed septicaemia from a cut on his foot. He suffered a heart attack before being airlifted to hospital on the mainland of Australia where he became gravely ill and was placed on life support. He was declared brain dead earlier in the week before the decision was made to turn off his life support. Offshore immigration detention centre
1969 (Includes those who are missing, who have not been rescued or recovered and are therefore feared drowned)