Eighteen irregular migrants have been found dead in a lorry at the side of the road in the village of Lokorsko in the Sofia city district, Bulgaria’s Interior Ministry said on February 17.
The dead reportedly include a child of an apparent age of six to seven years.
Police went to the scene after receiving a report of an abandoned lorry and a group of people around it, the ministry said.
It said that initial information was that the lorry had been transporting about 40 irregular migrants, who were concealed in a hiding place beneath a cargo of timber.
The drivers, who fled the scene, were being sought, the Interior Ministry said. Public broadcaster Bulgarian National Radio quoted National Investigation Service head Borislav Sarafov saying that four people have been arrested.
Sarafov said that the owner of the lorry, a Bulgarian national from Bourgas, was one of the people that have been detained. He said that the total number of migrants in the lorry was 52.
Reports on February 17 said that 34 of the migrants had been admitted to hospitals in Sofia, some in critical condition, suffering from dehydration, shock and exhaustion.
Bulgaria’s caretaker Health Minister Assen Medzhidiev told bTV that the people in the lorry had been deprived of oxygen for a long time. They had not eaten for several days and were cold and wet.
The cause of the deaths will be established by forensic examination.
According to media reports, the group were mostly young adult men, along with some children, possibly from Afghanistan. None was carrying identification.
The investigation has been taken over by the National Investigation Service, the Prosecutor’s Office said.
(Photo: Bart Groenhuizen/sxc.hu)
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