Migrant ship headed for Vancouver, U.S. officials say
The U.S. State Department says it believes a ship carrying Sri Lankan migrants is headed for Vancouver.
The MV Sun Sea, formerly known as the MV Harin Panich 19, is believed to be carrying 200 suspected asylum seekers.
"We're not aware that the Sun Sea, which is the name of the ship, has contacted the U.S. government. We're aware that it may be moving toward Vancouver, Canada," State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley told reporters at a press conference.
The cargo ship is travelling under the Thai flag, and reports from Sri Lanka say that members of the Tamil Tiger rebel group may be on board. The group is banned in Canada as a terrorist organization.
American officials have confirmed that the ship is being monitored by the U.S. Coast Guard and the Department of Homeland Security.
Last week, Canadian Defence Minister Peter MacKay said that the ministry is preparing to intercept the ship, and Health Canada is ready to supply medical attention for any passengers sick after months at sea.
The Sea Sun is expected to arrive in B.C. as early as next week.
In October, 76 Sri Lankan migrants arrived in Victoria aboard the Ocean Lady vessel. They were arrested by the Canadian Border Services Agency, detained for three months and released after investigators determined they had no ties to terrorism.