Nickelsdorf (Austria), Sep 20: Crowded aboard buses and trains, thousands more migrants flooded into Austria today as at least 13 desperate refugees drowned making the perilous trip to Europe in search of a better life.
Six children were among those who died off the coast of Turkey after the inflatable dinghy carrying them to Greece collided with a ship, Turkish media reported. As several thousand more migrants arrived in Austria from Hungary via Croatia, Budapest abruptly decided to reopen a border crossing with Serbia whose closure on Tuesday had sparked a surge of migrants into Croatia.
The Horgos-Roszke 1 crossing is on the highway that before the migrant crisis engulfing Europe was the main route linking Belgrade and Budapest. The closure added distance and uncertainty for those undertaking the gruelling journey across the Balkans into western Europe, with Croatia saying more than 25,000 had entered its territory in the past four days.
Within days of the border closure, Croatia said it could not cope with the influx of arrivals and began to redirect the migrants back towards Hungary or towards Slovenia, sparking angry reactions from both countries. Many of the migrants are fleeing the war in Syria, with the European Union receiving almost a quarter of a million asylum requests from April through June.
Germany alone expects up to a million asylum seekers this year. At the Austrian town of Nickelsdorf on the Hungarian border, some 7,000 refugees and migrants were stuck waiting for onwards transport to elsewhere in Europe -- some of them in a long snaking line for buses, others hoping for taxis to take them to Vienna.
"Once you get to Austria, you've arrived," said Saeed, a 23-year-old from Damascus who is hoping his odyssey will end in Germany. "As we approach the Europe that we want, people are getting nicer and nicer." There were more bottlenecks elsewhere along the long migrant trail up from Greece through the Balkans, as authorities in a string of countries struggle to cope with the inflow.
At Tovarnik in Croatia, on the border with Serbia, the interior ministry said nearly 4,000 people were waiting for transport towards Hungary. Buses and trains were arriving constantly, but not quickly enough to keep up with the relentless pace of arrivals. Croatian state-run broadcaster HRT reported a convoy of Hungarian military vehicles arriving at the two countries' border crossing at Beremend, and aired images of officials placing several large metal panels across a road on the Hungarian side.