11 killed as mi­grants smug­glers’ car crashes

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - - Worldwide - Costas Kan­touris in Thes­sa­loniki

A CAR car­ry­ing mi­grants col­lided with a truck in north­ern Greece yes­ter­day, killing 11 peo­ple, po­lice said.

Ten of the vic­tims were be­lieved to be mi­grants who crossed into Greece from Turkey. The 11th per­son was the driver and a sus­pected mi­grant smug­gler, po­lice said.

Po­lice said the car, in which the mi­grants were packed, had an­other ve­hi­cle’s li­cence plates and is sus­pected of hav­ing been used for mi­grant traf­fick­ing. The car had not stopped at a po­lice check­point dur­ing its jour­ney, but it wasn’t im­me­di­ately clear how close to the site of the crash that it hap­pened.

Po­lice said the crash oc­curred just af­ter 5am (0200 GMT) near the town of Kavala. The car, which had been head­ing to the main north­ern city of Thes­sa­loniki, col­lided with a truck head­ing in the op­po­site di­rec­tion and burst into flames.

All of the vic­tims have been burned be­yond recog­ni­tion. The truck caught fire as well.

All those in the car were killed. The truck driver, a 39-year-old Greek man, was treated for mi­nor in­juries in a hospi­tal in north­ern Greece be­fore be­ing dis­charged.

Greek au­thor­i­ties have been see­ing an in­crease in peo­ple il­le­gally cross­ing the Greek-Turk­ish bor­der in re­cent months.

Many are trans­ported to Thes­sa­loniki, where they head to po­lice sta­tions to be reg­is­tered and ap­ply for asy­lum.

Mean­while, Spain’s mar­itime res­cue ser­vice says it re­cov­ered the bod­ies of three mi­grants yes­ter­day and feared that an­other 17 were miss­ing in the Mediter­ranean Sea.

The ser­vice says that its res­cue craft found the bod­ies in wa­ters near a sink­ing boat it in­ter­cepted east of the Strait of Gi­bral­tar. Res­cuers saved 36 men of sub-Sa­ha­ran ori­gin. The saved mi­grants said that an­other 17 men, who had trav­elled with them, were miss­ing.

In to­tal, the ser­vice pulled 509 mi­grants from 15 small boats last Fri­day.

The UN says that 337 of the to­tal of 1,783 mi­grants who have died try­ing to reach Europe by sea in 2018 per­ished in wa­ters near Spain.

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