Bulgaria police find 18 migrants dead in abandoned truck

SOFIA – At least 18 people including a child were found dead in Bulgaria in an abandoned truck near the capital Sofia, officials said on Friday.

The truck was transporting timber and carrying illegal migrants hidden in a compartment, the country’s interior ministry said in a statement, adding that the truck was found near the village of Lokorsko.

A further 34 migrants, including five children, were rushed to hospitals in Sofia and some were in a critical, but stable condition, Health Minister Asen Medzhidiev said.

“There has been a lack of oxygen to those who were locked in this truck. They were freezing, wet, they have not eaten for several days,” Dr Medzhidiev told reporters.

Police were seeking to identify the truck’s drivers, who had fled, according to the interior ministry.

Bulgaria is situated on a route used by migrants from the Middle East and Afghanistan to enter the European Union.

Most do not stay in the country, but look to move on to richer countries in Western Europe, often using elaborate networks of smugglers.

In 2015, three Bulgarian truck drivers were arrested and later charged with the deaths of 71 migrants 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. REUTERS


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