At least 18 immigrants have died of suffocation inside the truck in which they were locked up and which was abandoned some 25 kilometers from Sofiaaccording to EFE sources from the ministry Bulgarian inland.
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The Bulgarian Police found 40 irregular immigrants inside the vehicle, 18 of whom had died of suffocation, locked in a false compartment under a load of wood.
Bulgarian media report that another twelve immigrants were found alive outside the truck.
According to statements from some of the survivors, the human smugglers simply abandoned the truck for unknown reasons and escaped.
The Emergency Medical Relief Service told the bTV station that the rest of the truck's occupants have been taken to hospitals in Sofia and that fourteen of them are in critical condition.
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"They have not received food for several days, they suffer from dehydration and have various injuries all over their bodies, I cannot say what caused them"Bulgarian Health Minister Asen Medzhidiev said after visiting some of the injured.
He also stated that they were suffering from symptoms of suffocation and hypothermia.
“We assume that the migrants were transported from the Bulgarian-Turkish border to the area around the town of Dragoman to then cross into Serbia.”a source from the Ministry of the Interior told EFE.
The Police have indicated that all the migrants are men, between the ages of 15 and 25, and that they are believed to be Afghan citizens.
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According to the Nova TV station, at least one person related to the death of the migrants has already been arrested.
That source notes that the driver or drivers abandoned the vehicle on a little-traveled rural road and escaped when they realized that some of the refugees had died.
Authorities are investigating whether the load of wood they were hiding under slipped and crushed the people hiding below.
Bulgaria, a member of the European Union (EU) but not of the Schengen area of free movement, is part of the route by which immigrants and refugees try to reach through Turkey, Serbia and other Balkan countries to rich countries of Western Europe.