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During the —76 Challenger expedition to Indonesia, naturalist John Murray carried out extensive surveys. Lister , who gathered a larger biological and mineralogical collection. This discovery led to annexation of the island by the British Crown on 6 June Phosphate mining began in using indentured workers from Singapore , Malaya , and China. John Davis Murray, a mechanical engineer and recent graduate of Purdue University , was sent to supervise the operation on behalf of the Phosphate Mining and Shipping Company. Murray was known as the "King of Christmas Island" until , when he married and settled in London. Hunt provides a detailed history of Chinese indentured labour on the island during those years. In , scientists attempted unsuccessfully to view a solar eclipse from the island to test Einstein 's Theory of Relativity. Most of the European and Asian staff and their families were evacuated to Perth. In late February and early March , there were two aerial bombing raids. Shelling from a Japanese naval group on 7 March led the district officer to hoist the white flag. The same day, a Japanese fleet of nine vessels arrived, and the island was surrendered. Sabotaged equipment was repaired and preparations were made to resume the mining and export of phosphate. Only twenty men from the 21st Special Base Force were left as a garrison. In , five of them were sentenced to death. However, following representations made by the newly independent government of India, their sentences were reduced to penal servitude for life. Nickels was appointed the first official representative of the new territory. During his two years on the island he had faced unavoidable difficulties On his departure he was lauded by all sectors of the island community. In , the official secretary was retitled an administrator and, since , Christmas Island and the Cocos Keeling Islands together are called the Australian Indian Ocean Territories and share a single administrator resident on Christmas Island. Recollections of the island's history and lifestyle, and lists and timetables of the island's leaders and events since its settlement are at the World Statesmen site  and in Neale , Bosman , Hunt and Stokes The settlement of Silver City was built in the s, with aluminium-clad houses that were supposed to be cyclone -proof. Christmas Island Immigration Reception and Processing Centre Immigration Detention Centre From the late s and early s, boats carrying asylum seekers , mainly departing from Indonesia, began landing on the island. In , Christmas Island was the site of the Tampa controversy , in which the Australian government stopped a Norwegian ship, MV Tampa , from disembarking rescued asylum-seekers. The ensuing standoff and the associated political reactions in Australia were a major issue in the Australian federal election. In , an immigration detention centre , containing approximately beds, was constructed on the island for the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs. Accordingly, the Commonwealth was obliged to afford asylum seekers a minimum of procedural fairness when assessing their claims. The karst terrain supports numerous anchialine caves. The narrow fringing reef surrounding the island poses a maritime hazard. The island's perimeter is embodied by sharp cliff faces, making many of the island's beaches difficult to get to. Climate is tropical and temperatures vary little throughout the year. There is a dry season from July to November with only occasional showers. The wet season is between November and May, and includes monsoons , with downpours of rain at random times of the day. Tropical cyclones also occur in the wet season, bringing very strong winds, rain and enormous seas. Climate data for Christmas Island Airport Month.
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