Three people have drowned and about 40 others were still missing after a fishing boat carrying mostly asylum-seekers to Australia sank off Indonesia’s Java Island, police said on Wednesday.

At least 160 people from Bangladesh, Iran and Sri Lanka were rescued after the accident on Tuesday, said West Java police chief Inspector-General Suhardi Alius. The boat left a fishing village in West Java early Tuesday but soon ran into trouble, Mr. Alius said.

The victims were a girl, a man and a woman, he said.
Police and local fishermen were still searching for the missing, he said. The survivors tried to flee after being rescued but were caught by police, said Rochmali, the head of the search and rescue agency in Bandung, the capital of West Java.

“It’s very difficult to get information from them,” said Mr. Rochmali. “They have been evading questions.” He said the survivors also included Iraqis. Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s parliamentary secretary, Ed Husic, said the accident was “terrible news and underscores the need for us to have an effective regional answer to this issue.”