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Australian sailors had to dive into the ocean to rescue dozens of asylum seekers on Wednesday after their rickety vessel overturned in heaving seas off Christmas Island.

Details of the heroic effort came as Immigration Minister Brendan O'Connor called on the Opposition to again consider the Government's Malaysian solution people swap in the wake of reports of the deaths of almost 100 asylum seekers this week attempting to get Australia.

HMAS Parramatta came to the aid of an asylum seeker vessel carrying 90 people on Tuesday night after a passenger on the ship phoned Australian authorities for help.

The frigate escorted the vessel south but on Wednesday morning made the decision to begin getting the asylum seekers off their vessel as it was hit by huge waves.

About noon, the vessel capsized, throwing about 25 asylum seekers and some Defence personnel into the water.

Other sailors jumped into the water to help haul out their mates and the asylum seekers. The group were taken to Christmas Island for processing.

HMAS Glenelg was yesterday forced to pull 66 passengers off an asylum seeker boat amid fears about the safety of the vessel in rough seas off Christmas Island.

Mr O'Connor said he was looking into reports close to 100 dead Burmese asylum seekers were thrown into the sea by their starving shipmates in an incident off Sri Lanka.