In a tragic incident, a van filled with migrants crashed at a highway junction in southern Germany on Friday after the driver accelerated to evade a police check, resulting in the loss of seven lives and injuring 16 individuals, according to authorities. The events unfolded when a police patrol spotted the overloaded vehicle on the A94 highway east of Munich at approximately 3:15 a.m. and attempted to halt it. However, the driver failed to respond and accelerated to a speed of 180 kph (112 mph). Shortly thereafter, the driver lost control of the van when taking an exit off the highway, causing it to crash, ejecting several of the 23 people on board.
Tragically, seven individuals, including a 6-year-old child, lost their lives, as confirmed by the police in a statement. The remaining 16 occupants sustained injuries, with some of them in serious condition, and were promptly transported to hospitals. All the individuals involved were Syrian and Turkish citizens.
The driver, who is also suspected of being a smuggler, is a 24-year-old stateless man residing in Austria. He was among those injured and was formally detained while in the hospital. He is under investigation on charges of homicide, among other offenses.
The van was intended to accommodate nine people, and it was not feasible for many on board to use seat belts, as reported by the German news agency dpa.
Over the past several months, Germany has experienced a significant influx of migrants. At the time of the accident, the van, which had Austrian registration, was en route to Munich.
The A94 highway is recognized as a common smuggling route, and the site of the crash is situated approximately 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the Austrian border, a key transit point for many migrants heading to Germany.
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Bavaria’s top security official, State Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann, expressed his dismay, describing the actions of the smuggler as “inhuman.” Herrmann, a member of Germany’s main opposition bloc, has been advocating for stricter border controls and emphasized the importance of strengthening immediate border checks to thwart smugglers attempting to cross the border.