Two migrants die from heatstroke and suffocation in tanker truck near Serbia-Hungary border

Two migrants have died and two others are in serious condition, after they were found unconscious in a tanker truck near the Serbian border with Hungary.

According to Serbian authorities, four migrants including two from Afghanistan, were found on 21 May 2019 by the tanker truck driver. All four migrants were unconscious when the driver opened the tank and were taken to hospital. It was parked in a car wash in Futog, a suburban settlement of the city of Novi Sad, Serbia.

In a press release by the hospital, the migrants showed signs of heatstroke and suffocation. One of the migrants died on 22 May while the other died overnight. The two migrants who survived are still in a serious condition in an intensive care unit, under medical supervision.

Thousands of migrants fleeing war and poverty have been moving from Turkey through the Balkans in a bid to reach wealthier nations in Western Europe. In 2015, over 390,000 migrants, many from the Middle East and Afghanistan, attempted to enter Hungary via Croatia and Serbia towards northwest Europe. To stem the flow, Budapest ordered a 500-kilometre long wall, covering a quarter of the country’s border. Hungary claimed that the fence has helped to cut the inflow of migrants by 99.7%.

However, in Serbia, migrant flows are increasing again, according to Serbian authorities. Official figures place the daily number of migrants entering the country between 80 and 100, primarily from North Macedonia. Most do not intend to stay, and will use trains or buses, or simply walk across borders.

“You can often see them not far from the highway as they walk towards Belgrade,” said Rados Djurovic, executive director of the Asylum Protection Center on Italian news agency ANSA. He added that there is also an increase in the number of attempts to illegally cross the border by hiding in lorries and vans near the border crossings. “The situation is serious and many are risking their lives,” he said.

Many are also being pushed back across the border by Serbia’s neighbours, including Bosnia, Croatia and Hungary. According to data released by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), up to 4,000 migrants remain stranded in Serbia. 

TMP – 01/06/2019

Photo credit: Pavalena/Shutterstock

Photo caption: Map of the Republic of Serbia