Eighteen migrants were found dead on Friday in an abandoned truck near Sofia and others were rescued, some in serious condition, authorities in Bulgaria, a Balkan country facing an unprecedented surge in the flow of illegal immigrants, said.
According to the first elements provided by the government, the truck was illegally transporting 52 people hidden among wood.
“They died of suffocation, there were too many people crammed into too small a space,” Deputy Attorney General Borislav Sarafov told AFP. It is the deadliest tragedy Bulgaria has experienced in terms of immigration, he added.
According to public radio BNR, they are Afghans, all young men.
The inhabitants alerted the police to the presence of an abandoned truck near the town of Lokorsko, some 20 km from the capital.
Police are actively searching for the fugitive traffickers, the ministry said.
Among the survivors, 14 were taken to hospital, eight of them in serious condition, according to Health Minister Assen Medjidiev. Another 10 people, who had hidden in the undergrowth, were found.