Afghan travels 400km belted to underside of a lorry

Migrants arriving in Italy by boat on Aug 20, 2016.
Migrants arriving in Italy by boat on Aug 20, 2016.PHOTO: EPA

ROME (AFP) - An Afghan migrant travelled 400km along an Italian highway strapped by leather belts to the bottom of a lorry, police said Tuesday (Aug 23).

The young man was arrested after other motorists on the Naples-Rome stretch of the A1 motorway caught sight of him suspended from his makeshift harness and alerted police.

The Bulgarian drivers of the lorry, who were on a trip from Turkey to Spain, said they had been unaware of the stowaway and were allowed to continue their journey.

In an interview with Sky TG24, the Afghan man said he had paid €900 (S$1,300) to a trafficker who had attached him to the lorry on a ferry from Greece, where he had spent six months in a migrant camp, to the Italian port of Brindisi.

He said his 22 hours under the lorry were tough but not unbearable.

"I have been through much more dangerous things in Afghanistan than this journey," he said.

The exhausted Afghan was briefly hospitalised before being released to a migrant reception centre. He was ordered to leave Italy within seven days after indicating he did not want to register an asylum request in the country.

More than 100,000 migrants have arrived in Italy since the start of the year. Many of them try to avoid registering there in the hope of being able to deposit asylum requests in northern Europe.

Aid workers said they were hopeful that the Afghan stowaway would change his mind and register an asylum request in Italy.

He told Sky TG24 he wanted to get to France to meet friends and that his mother and brothers were living in Switzerland.