At least 14 migrants killed by express train as they walked along tracks
Published 24/04/2015 | 10:27
At least 14 migrants have been killed by an express train as they walked along tracks in Macedonia.
The group, believed to be from Afghanistan and Somalia, were walking at night along the line in a narrow gorge near the central Macedonian town of Veles.
They were hit by a passenger train heading from the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki to the Serbian capital, Belgrade.
Migrants and refugees using the overland route from Greece to central and western Europe often use the train tracks as a path to guide them along their way and to evade police.
Tens of thousands of migrants and refugees attempt to reach the more prosperous central and western European countries by heading from Turkey to nearby Greek islands, then either try to sneak on to Italy-bound ferries or head overland through Macedonia.
Similar incidents have been reported in the past in Macedonia, though none with as high a death count.
Local media have reported five similar incidents along train tracks which left six migrants dead in November and December.
Police spokesman Ivo Kotevski said the migrants were believed to have been part of a larger group of about 30-40 people.
He said authorities had detained eight other migrants who were uninjured but remained in the area until police arrived. They were taken to Veles, where they were to be questioned by a prosecutor.
The remaining survivors are believed to have fled.
Although short, the sea journey from the Turkish coast is perilous, with smugglers overloading unseaworthy boats and often abandoning vessels after entering Greek waters to evade arrest.
On Monday, a wooden yacht packed with about 90 migrants ran aground on the shore of the Greek island of Rhodes, leaving three people dead, including a young boy.