More than 100 migrants found in Bulgarian refrigerated truck

Migrants and refugees waiting to cross the Slovenian-Austrian border on Oct 31, 2015 in Sentilj.
Migrants and refugees waiting to cross the Slovenian-Austrian border on Oct 31, 2015 in Sentilj.AFP

SOFIA (AFP) - Some 130 migrants, most believed to be from Syria, were discovered on Saturday in a refrigerated truck on the Bulgarian border with Turkey, Bulgaria's interior ministry said, adding that the lorry driver had been arrested.

A ministry spokeswoman said 38 men, 33 women and 58 children were found hidden behind bottles of sparkling water at the border crossing of Kapitan-Andreevo, adding that their state of health was not a cause for concern.

The migrants' attempt to flee their homeland recalled a case with a more tragic outcome in August when 71 migrants were found to have frozen to death in a refrigerated lorry designed to carry frozen food after traffickers abandoned the vehicle in Austria.

EU member Bulgaria has been making around 100 arrests a day of migrants seeking to transit the country clandestinely to avoid being discovered and sent to camps pending an outcome to their asylum requests.

The country has to date avoided the mass influx seen by neighbouring Greece, which thousands of refugees have sought to reach in perilous crossings by sea.

But Bulgarian authorities nonetheless fear increased arrivals ahead of the winter, leading police Saturday to make checks of some 6,000 vehicles and arrest 16 suspected traffickers as well as 495 migrants nationwide.