28 Jun 2012
"For anyone to die at sea is sad, but it is especially sad when some of those are children," he says.
Like many other locals, Kamar Ismail is deeply troubled by the second asylum seeker boat tragedy in less than two weeks and is still haunted by memories of another Wednesday morning 18 months ago when a flimsy boat carrying 90 asylum seekers was thrown against the jagged rocks of the Island.
"As the boat came in I saw a lady in the water pointing to the back of the boat and saying a man was holding a baby and shouting that the baby was dying. Then a big wave pushed the boat towards the cliff and suddenly everybody was in the water. I kept on looking for the baby the man was holding. But it was not there," he says.
Kamar cannot forget the man and the baby who had stood at the rear of the boat before being lost under the waves as the boat broke up and smashed against the rocks.
For Simon Prince, who operates the dive shop on the Island it was even more traumatic as he raced down the long jetty near Rocky Point where the boat foundered, desperately throwing whatever life jackets the shop had into the water in a bid to help those fighting for survival in the huge seas.
In the past week, the refrigerated containers serving as temporary morgues outside the island's small hospital are once again back on site. So too are increased numbers of the AFP.
"Survivors are unloaded onto the Island down near the stevedoring area by the detention centre which is closed off. So we don't see them but we can see when the bodies come in, when they are loaded into vans and trucks. We know what the refrigerated container means and that this is where recovered bodies are being taken," says Mike Foster of the 17 bodies recovered so far from last week's tragedy when an estimated 90 of the 210 aboard lost their lives.
"These tragedies touch the heart. No one wants people to die. Something has to be done," says Mike who criticises politicians on both sides for a policy that not only has failed to stop the boats but has done little to prevent more and more of these tragedies.
Karam Ismail is equally disturbed by the continuing loss of life.
"It is a sad thing and a very, very risky way of coming to this island," he says and like Mike and many others on the island blames the Government and Opposition for putting politics and next year's election ahead of the increasing number of deaths.
Since the Christmas Island shipwreck of 2010 almost 600 men, women and children have drowned during their perilous sea journey from Indonesia to Australia. However it is believed this figure could well be far higher as there are no records of the number of asylum seeker boats that leave Indonesia. Not picked up by radar, some with their human cargo of desperate people simply sink without a trace.