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Train hits oppressed migrants in central Macedonia, kills 14

24 April 2015 16:40


At least 14 migrants from Somalia and Afghanistan have lost their lives in central Macedonia when they were hit by an international express passenger train, officials say.

The incident happened at around 10:30 p.m. local time (2030 GMT) late on Thursday as the migrants were following the train tracks north of the central Macedonian town of Veles to reach the European Union’s borderless Schengen zone in Hungary through Serbia, police said Friday.

“The driver tried to alert them by horn and stop the train. Many managed to escape but 14 were killed,” a local prosecutor said in a statement.

The train was heading from the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki to the Serbian capital of Belgrade. The driver reported seeing some 50 people sitting on or hiking along the tracks but did not manage to stop in time, according to the prosecutor.

A police spokeswoman, Anita Stojkovska, also said eight remaining migrants were arrested for further investigation, while the rest of the survivors managed to flee the scene.

Stojkovska added that such incidents have occurred on the same stretch of line in Macedonia over the past six months, with a death toll of nearly a dozen migrants.

A migrant is seen carrying his child as he walks on a railway line at the border post of Idomeni, some 600 km North of Athens, on the Greece-Macedonia border on April 21, 2015. © AFP
The latest tragedy in Macedonia comes a day after the EU leaders had a summit to deal with the issue of migrants, particularly the crisis of recurring shipwrecks in the Mediterranean.

On April 19, some 800 migrants drowned after an overcrowded boat capsized and sank off the Italian island of Lampedusa on its way to Europe. The fatal incident has been the deadliest in a series of migrant shipwrecks that have claimed over 1,750 lives so far in 2015.

The casualties are reported to be 30 times higher than the number during the same period last year.

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