An Australia-bound boat carrying asylum seekers has sunk off the coast of Indonesia, with up to 60 people thought to be dead or missing, Australian media report.

The boat, carrying 170 people, encountered harsh sea conditions and simply broke, News Ltd reported on Tuesday. Rescue efforts by local fishermen have managed to save more than 100 of the passengers, mostly Iranian and Sri Lankan nationals.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has confirmed an official rescue operation, declining to comment further.

The incident comes days after Australia ruled that any refugees arriving by boat would be redirected without exception to neighboring Papua New Guinea for individual assessment before settling there