Bulgarian police
Bulgarian police

Nine migrants from Pakistan and Afghanistan have died after a minibus transporting them through Bulgaria crashed on the highway. The bus was reportedly driven by a 16-year-old Bulgarian who did not have a license.

At least 10 people were killed and seven others injured on Sunday when a minibus smuggling migrants crashed in southern Bulgaria, the country's interior ministry said in a statement.

The crash took place on a highway near Pazardjik, which is close to the Greek and Turkish borders.

Police said the migrants did not have any identification documents with them but survivors of the accident told authorities they were Pakistani and Afghan nationals.

Nine of those who died were migrants. The tenth victim was a 16-year-old Bulgarian who was apparently driving the bus. The interior ministry said the 16-year-old had a criminal record and no driver's license.

Bulgarian television channel bTV reported that the teen driver likely fell asleep behind the wheel, leading to the crash. The interior ministry statement though says the exact cause of the crash is still under investigation.

Entry point

European Union-member Bulgaria has become a main entry point for migrants traveling to western and northern Europe through the officially-closed Balkan route. Recently, the country has seen a fall in the number of people illegally crossing its southeastern border with Turkey, which is almost completely sealed with a razor-wire-topped fence.

In May, Bulgarian authorities estimated that around 3,000 people have entered the country and continued their journeys illegally so far this year.

Another 3,000 migrants remain stranded in Bulgaria's refugee shelters, according to the latest data from the interior ministry.

rs/jm (AFP, dpa)

First published: June5, 2017

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