Seven dead as vehicle carrying migrants crashes in Hungary

Forensic investigators examine the site of a vehicle crash in Morahalom, Hungary, early 14 December 2021. The van was transporting migrants when it crashed into a house while fleeing a police check just before midnight. Seven people have been killed and four others injured, including the Serbian driver, who was arrested at the scene of the crash. [EPA-EFE/FERENC DONKA]

Seven people died and four others were injured when a vehicle carrying migrants crashed into a flower shop in Hungary as the driver sought to dodge the police, officials said Tuesday (14 December).

The Serbian driver — who was among those injured — was arrested after the accident late Monday in Morahalom, a town on the Hungary-Serbia border, according to a police statement.

He was speeding to avoid a police check, it said, without giving details of the victims. A police spokesperson told AFP all the victims were men.

Images of the crash showed the shop wall partly destroyed, though police said no one inside was injured. The vehicle, which overturned, was registered in Serbia.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, known for his hardline immigration stance, erected a border fence between Hungary and Serbia in 2015 to stop people entering the EU to seek asylum.

The accident showed “the serious consequences of illegal migration,” Gyorgy Bakondi, the head of internal security, told public TV channel M1.

Andras Lederer of refugee rights group Hungarian Helsinki Committee (HHC) said he suspected those in the vehicle crossed the border on foot before being picked up by a smuggler.

Last year, Hungary closed border camps housing asylum seekers after the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that conditions in them amounted to detention.

Since then it has become virtually impossible to seek asylum in Hungary as new rules say asylum seekers must first register at one of the country’s embassies abroad.

Hungary has so far ignored a ruling against the police for indiscriminately and often violently deporting asylum seekers.

In the worst migration tragedy linked to Hungary in recent years, 71 people suffocated and were found dead in a truck travelling from the country and abandoned on an Austrian highway in 2015.

Up to 50 migrants found dead in truck in Austria

A large number of migrants have been found dead inside a truck on a highway in Austria, police said on Thursday 27 August.

In 2019, a Hungarian court sentenced four traffickers to life over the deaths.

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