Bulgaria: ‘18 Found Dead In Truck; 7 Arrested’
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
SOFIA/BUDAPEST (Worthy News) – Authorities say seven people were detained after police found 18 migrants dead, including a child, in an abandoned truck near Bulgaria’s capital Sofia.
All of them died of asphyxiation in the back of a truck abandoned near the capital, Sofia, by the smugglers who were transporting them, officials said.
Another 34 migrants, including five children, who were traveling in the lorry, were taken to hospital, officials confirmed.
“At the moment, 19 people remain in medical facilities,” said caretaker Health Minister Asen Medzhidiev. “Eight people were released…most of them were accommodated in the State Agency for Refugees.”
When police arrived at the truck, the driver had fled. They uncovered the passengers in a secret compartment below the timber the vehicle was carrying, investigators said.
Borislav Sarafov, the chief of Bulgaria’s National Investigation Service, told reporters that those arrested include
“smugglers who prepared the hiding places themselves.” They “equipped them with foil to prevent the x-ray from detecting heat from human bodies.”
Bulgarian authorities have described the events as “the worst migration drama” Bulgaria has ever experienced.
The country is situated on a route used by migrants from mainly the Middle East and Afghanistan to enter the European Union.
Most do not stay in Bulgaria but look to move on to wealthier countries in western Europe, often using elaborate networks of smugglers.
In 2015, three Bulgarian truck drivers were detained and later charged with the deaths of 71 people found dead beside an Austrian motorway.
In December, Bulgaria was blocked from entering the EU’s passport-free Schengen zone by Austria and the Netherlands over security and rule-of-law concerns, but the country will seek to gain entry again this year.
The Balkan route has become a difficult journey for hundreds of thousands of migrants fleeing war, persecution, and poverty as countries such as Hungary erected massive anti-migration fences.
Hungarian authorities have said they intercepted nearly a million “illegal migrants” since 2015 trying to enter from mainly neighboring Serbia.
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