More than 270 refugees from the troubled Portuguese colony of Timor arrived in the north Australian port of Darwin late on Thursday night (14 August) after spending 54 hours at sea.
AERIAL VIEWS Freighter "Macdili" at sea (4 shots)
Initials CL/0020 CL/0030
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Background: More than 270 refugees from the troubled Portuguese colony of Timor arrived in the north Australian port of Darwin late on Thursday night (14 August) after spending 54 hours at sea.
The 272 refugees -- including 249 Portuguese, 15 Australians, four Britons, three Japanese and one Brazilian -- had fled the Timorese capital, Dili, aboard the Panamanian-registered freighter, Macdili, on Tuesday (12 August), two days after the Timorese Democratic Union was reported to have taken over key installations in the territory in support of demands for independence.
Most of the Portuguese refugees are dependents of servicemen on the island, and on Friday (15 August) the majority of them left Darwin on board a jumbo-jet bound for Lisbon, after spending the night on a cruise-liner in Darwin harbour.
The refugees spoke of fighting in Timor between the timorese Democratic Union and the rival Radical Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor, but said that Dili was calm when they left on Tuesday. No direct news has come from the island since the troubles began last weekend.
Portugal has denied that a ???coup has taken place in the territory, and described the situation in the capital as "tense". Official Portuguese policy on the independence of the territory is that the island should democratically decide its own future.