On Friday, officials said that at least 18 people, including a child, were found dead in a truck that had been left near the capital, Sofia.
The country’s interior ministry said in a statement that the truck was found near the village of Lokorsko. It was carrying both wood and illegal immigrants hidden in a compartment.
Asen Medzhidiev, the Health Minister, said that 34 migrants, including five children, were rushed to hospitals in Sofia. Some of them were in critical but stable condition, he said.
Medzhidiev told reporters –
“There has been a lack of oxygen to those who were locked in this truck. They were freezing, wet, they have not eaten for several days.”
The interior ministry said that police were trying to find the truck’s drivers, who had run away. Bulgaria is on a path that people from the Middle East and Afghanistan take to get into the EU.
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Many leave the country, frequently with the help of complex smuggling networks, in search of better lives in Western European countries.
In 2015, three Bulgarian truck drivers were arrested and charged with killing 71 migrants whose bodies were found next to an Austrian highway.
Austria and the Netherlands stopped Bulgaria from entering the EU’s passport-free Schengen zone in December because they were worried about security and the rule of law. Bulgaria will try again this year to get into the zone.