7 dead as migrant car crashes to avoid police

A car carrying migrants crashed killing seven people late on Monday, when the driver tried to avoid a police check close to Hungary’s border with Serbia.

Police in the Hungarian town of Morahalom said they had arrested the Serbian driver, who was among four people hurt in the accident.

Hungary is on one of the main migrant transit routes into the European Union (EU) from the Balkans and Eastern Europe.

No details of the victims’ ages or nationalities were initially given.

Pictures of the crash showed a vehicle with Serbian license plates in front of the damaged wall of a flower shop. Noone inside the building was hurt.

The accident just before midnight on Monday was the latest crash involving people trying to cross into the EU illegally.

Last month, seven people were killed and eight injured in northern Greece when their vehicle crashed into a motorway toll station.

Police said they had come from a border area close to Turkey and those injured included men from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nepal, as well as a Moldovan driver suspected of smuggling them.

In October, Austrian police stopped a minibus that had crossed the border from Hungary carrying 30 people. Two bodies were found inside and the driver ran off.

The smuggling route into Central Europe is known to be fraught with risk for those making the journey.

The most shocking case of its kind took place in Austria in August 2015, killing 71 people from Iraq, Syria, Iran and Afghanistan, at a time when large numbers of refugees and migrants were heading through the Balkans into the EU.

The victims suffocated inside a small meat lorry that began its journey on the Hungarian-Serbian border. Four people were later jailed for 25 years by a Hungarian court.

Hungary has tightened asylum rules since the influx in 2015 and 2016. The EU’s top court ruled in November that the country had failed to fulfil its obligations under European Union law by refusing to allow asylum applications from anyone who had arrived in Hungary from a third country considered safe. -BBC

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