Deadly accident involving refugees: More questions than answers

Written by on June 5, 2017 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on Deadly accident involving refugees: More questions than answers

On Sunday at 04:15 am, a terrible accident on Trakia Motorway, between Plovdiv and Sofia, left ten people dead and eight injured. Most of the victims were refugees from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria, the Bulgarian authorities said.

Regarding the cause of the accident, no options have been ruled out, including a technical issue with the vehicle or a second car, which might have forced the van with the refugees off the road. But Bulgarian National Television (BNT) quoted Vassil Malinov, the District Attorney of Pazardzhik, saying the driver, a 16-year-old without a drivers license, most likely fell asleep, just before the vehicle left the motorway and crashed into a tree. It happened 98 kilometers to the East of Sofia.

According to BNT, the young driver, who died at the scene, was previously convicted for robbery and theft. His apartment in Sofia was searched right after the accident. The owner of the van was questioned too.

The authorities do not know whether the refugees in that vehicle entered Bulgaria just a few hours before the accident occurred, or maybe days before. Also, the answer to the question whether they entered Bulgaria from Turkey or from Greece has not been answered so far. Nor do the authorities know which human trafficking organisation was involved.

There are a few obvious aspects. Judging from the video material aired by BNT, the vehicle was a Mercedes Sprinter van built for freight, rather than people. It was not a bus and probably did not have seats for the passengers. Had it been a passenger van with windows and seats, it would not have been for 18 people, but rather for 9 to 12 passengers. In this case, seat belts (which in this country are not always available) could have saved lives.

But this was a van. The people in the back were probably not comfortable at all, sitting on the floor. Secondly, there were too many people in this car. Thirdly, they had absolutely no protection. This means, when the van crashed into that tree, maybe at about 80 to 100 km/h, the passengers were most likely catapulted into the metal wall, which usually separates the driver’s cabin from the rest of the vehicle, with a lot of force.

The fact that the driver was not a driver, but a teenager without a license, who may not have been aware of the dangers in connection with late night driving, added more risks to the trip.

Refugees from the countries mentioned, especially from Afghanistan and Syria, take many risks when they commence their journeys. In Western Europe, they are looking for security. For those who died yesterday morning, the trip to security and freedom tragically ended at a tree next to a Bulgarian motorway.

On shore, yesterday’s accident is the deadliest incident involving refugees, since the refugee crisis began.

Photo: BNT

 

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About the Author

Imanuel Marcus is Associate Editor of The Sofia Globe. He is German and lives in Sofia. Contact: imanuelmarcus (at) gmail.com