Friday, September 11, 2015 8:10 pm
Austria partially shut a motorway linking Vienna and Hungary on Friday as dozens of migrants who had crossed the border set off for the Austrian capital on foot rather than wait for struggling authorities to arrange transport.
Austria closed the A4 motorway near the Hungarian border for security reasons on Friday morning. A spokeswoman for the road operator ASFINAG later said the eastbound lane towards Hungary had reopened.
Around 8,000 people crossed the border into Austria on Thursday and a further 3,600 had crossed since midnight, a police spokesman said, adding that he expected the number of crossings to match Thursday’s throughout the day.
Austria cut its rail link to Hungary on Thursday, citing a “massive overburdening” of its capacity by migrants who continue to stream in from Hungary, many of them having fled the civil war in Syria and marched through the Western Balkans. The train line will remain closed over the weekend, the rail company said.
Since Germany and Austria said on Saturday that they would let the wave of migrants enter their territory, tens of thousands of people have passed through Austria on their way to Germany. Only hundreds have requested asylum in Austria.
A Reuters witness saw hundreds of people crossing the Hungarian border into Austria on Friday morning.
“Around 1,500 people have spent the night outdoors,” the police spokesman said. Authorities were operating 30 buses and were trying to move people “to where they can continue their journey”, he added.
The police handling the new arrivals at the Hungarian border are struggling to provide food and shelter for the migrants while arranging transport – largely on buses, since the rail link to Vienna is suspended.
Hungary has transported tens of thousands of people to near the Austrian border in the past week. They have then crossed the border on foot. Others have entered Austria by train, but that option has been unavailable since Thursday’s rail suspension