The bodies of 18 migrants have been found on board a truck near Sofia in Bulgaria. The migrants (refugees) apparently suffocated to death. Around 20 survivors are being treated in clinics. Three suspects are said to have been arrested.
They were hidden under a load of wood in the truck's cargo area and presumably suffocated, local media reported after the gruesome discovery on Friday near the western Bulgarian village of Lokorsko.
According to police, the people had been smuggled illegally from Turkey across the EU's external border into Bulgaria and had meanwhile held out in a forest for two days. According to the authorities, they came from Afghanistan.
According to Health Minister Assen Medzhidiev, the migrants had to hold out for a long time without water and food. Eleven of them were taken out of the truck injured and taken to hospital for treatment. They were hidden in the truck, which was parked 20 kilometers away from the Bulgarian capital Sofia. A child was among the dead.
Police launched a manhunt for the drivers of the truck with Bulgarian license plates who had fled, according to the migrants. Four suspects were arrested, according to investigators. It remained unclear at first how long the people in the truck had been on the road. There had been no traffic accident, the police had only received just a tip-off about an abandoned lorry, the Ministry of the Interior said.
Bulgaria erected a barbed wire fence at the EU's external border with Turkey in 2017. Migrants often cross this border illegally to avoid being registered at a border point in Bulgaria, and then usually travel on to Central and Western Europe. Due to the reservations of several member states, Bulgaria has not yet been accepted into the Schengen area without border controls.
Francis Tawiah (Duisburg - Germany)