4 die as car crammed with migrants dives off cliff in Greece
THESSALONIKI, Greece (AP) — Four people died during a police chase in northern Greece when an overcrowded smuggler’s car carrying eight migrants, including two in the trunk, plunged off a 90-foot cliff, authorities said Wednesday.
Health officials said the other four migrants and the Pakistani driver of the car were injured in the accident late Tuesday near the town of Kavala, east of Thessaloniki.
Kavala hospital director Anastassios Karassavoglou told The Associated Press that one man was in intensive care with multiple bone fractures, while the other four were in relatively good condition.
Police said the accident occurred when the driver ignored police orders to stop on a highway, turned onto a smaller road and lost control of the vehicle. One of those in the trunk died.
The names and nationalities of the migrants were not immediately known.
The 35-year-old driver faces multiple manslaughter and human trafficking charges.
The car was carrying the migrants west from the Turkish border, which they had crossed illegally.
In a similar incident late Tuesday in the same area, police arrested a 19-year-old Pakistani who was allegedly driving a car with another seven people on board from the Turkish border area to Thessaloniki.
Police said the suspect drove through a police highway checkpoint and was eventually stopped on a secondary road. The car was carrying five Pakistani migrants, an Afghan and an alleged accomplice of the driver who managed to escape. The migrants had allegedly paid 2,100 euros ($2,500) each to be taken to Thessaloniki.
Despite a series of Balkan border closures and a deal between the European Union and Turkey in early 2016 to restrict the unchecked flow of migrants through Greece to Europe’s prosperous heartland, thousands still cross from Turkey to the Greek islands in smuggling boats.
Nearly 16,000 are stuck on Greece’s eastern Aegean Sea islands in camps that human rights groups have repeatedly criticized as overcrowded and lacking in proper housing facilities.