Thursday 13 December 2018

11 killed as migrants smugglers' car crashes

A burnt out truck on a field behind a small chapel, next to a motorway, following the collision near Greece's northern town of Kavala yesterday. Photo: AP
A burnt out truck on a field behind a small chapel, next to a motorway, following the collision near Greece's northern town of Kavala yesterday. Photo: AP

Costas Kantouris

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.

© Associated Press

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