On August 26, the Norwegian freighter MV Tampa responded to an Australian Coastal Surveillance alert that a boat was sinking 140 kilometres north of Australia's west coast. The Afghanis had journeyed to Indonesia and then tried to sail to Australia. That ship had run into trouble. The Norwegian ship then rescued the 430 people. The MV Tampa sought permission to land them on the Australian territory of Christmas Island, near Indonesia.
The Australian Prime Minister refused it permission to land. He said that they had to go to Indonesia (because they were rescued in Indonesian waters) or the MV Tampa could take them to Norway. The deadlock was partly broken on 1 September, when New Zealand offered to take 150 of the asylum seekers and the tiny South Pacific island of Nauru (population of about 12,000) offered to take in the rest.