Migrant crisis: Austria sees fresh influx

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Media captionMigrants are crossing the Austrian border on foot, reports Anna Holligan

Austria saw the arrival of at least 10,000 migrants on Saturday, amid bitter rows among EU nations on how to handle the growing crisis.

The migrants had been sent from Croatia into Hungary, which in turn shipped them on to Austria.

Hungary accused Croatia of breaking the rules by failing to register the migrants - some told the BBC that Hungary had not registered them either.

Meanwhile, 26 migrants are missing after their boat sank off Greece.

Coastguards managed to rescue 20 people but were told the boat had been carrying 46 people when it sank off the Greek island of Lesbos.

Separately, a search is continuing for 13 people still missing after their boat sank in the same waters on Saturday, killing a five-year-old girl.

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Media captionPeople keep on flowing to the Hungary-Croatia border, says Ben Brown

On Saturday Austrian police said they were expecting at least 10,000 arrivals, while the head of the Austrian Red Cross, Gerry Foitik, later told Austria Presse Agentur (APA) that between 12,000 to 13,000 people had entered the country over the course of the day.

The deputy police chief of Austria's Burgenland state, Christian Stella, told APA that Hungary had not given enough warning.

Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner accused neighbouring countries of failing to follow EU rules, expressing concern that migrants were also arriving from Croatia via Slovenia.

One migrant who crossed into the Austrian town of Heiligenkreuz from Hungary told the Associated Press news agency: "I feel like I've been born anew. It makes no difference whether I am delayed, whether I stay here two days. The important thing is that I've finally arrived and that I am now finally safe."

Croatia has seen 20,000 migrants entering from Serbia since Wednesday and, after initially welcoming them, said it was unable to cope and moved them on.

Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic admitted there was no agreement with Hungary.

"We forced them, by sending people up there. And we'll keep doing it," he said.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto branded Mr Milanovic "pathetic", adding: "Instead of honestly making provision for the immigrants, it sent them straight to Hungary. What kind of European solidarity is this?"

The Hungarian government accused Croatia of breaching international law by failing to register migrants and said all migrants would be registered in Hungary before they could leave for northern Europe.

However, a number of migrants who reached Austria via Hungary told the BBC they had not been registered in Hungary either, simply driven in buses across the country and told to walk over a railway line into Austria.

A Hungarian government spokesman could not confirm this, but said that although it was policy to register migrants, they could not be forced to do so.

While Hungary continues to transport migrants arriving from Croatia, it is building a razor-wire fence on the border that will be completed soon.

It says it will then enforce the same tough laws it introduced earlier this week on its Serbian border - where there is a similar fence - making crossing it a criminal offence.

However, government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs said that "at the moment" stopping the flow "seems to be impractical".

Read more:

In pictures: Migrants seek new routes

Timelapse of migrant queue at Croatian border

What is the next route through Europe?

How is the migrant crisis dividing EU countries?

Crisis in graphics

In other developments:

  • A series of multinational operations off Libya, including vessels from the UK, Italy and Germany, rescued nearly 5,000 people trying to reach Europe on Saturday
  • Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu says Hungary's plan to build a fence along their shared border is an "unacceptable solution and it contravenes the spirit of the EU"

EU meeting

Slovenia also accused Croatia of breaking the rules of both the EU and the Schengen free movement area.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Tension remains high at the Edirne crossing point between Greece and Turkey
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption A local Greek (R) jumps in to help rescue an Afghan migrant who abandoned a floundering dinghy off the island of Lesbos

It said more than 1,500 migrants had entered the country, with hundreds more at the border.

Slovenian interior ministry official Bostjan Sefic said the police were "fully in control and the security situation is good".

Some 150 migrants have now entered Austria from the Slovenian border and were taken to the southern Austrian town of Spielfeld.

Most of the migrants are en route to more prosperous northern European countries - with Germany the favourite destination.

The EU has been strongly criticised for its failure to co-ordinate a response.

Interior ministers will hold an emergency meeting on Tuesday in another attempt to agree on relocating migrants with binding quotas for each state.

The next day, EU leaders will hold an extraordinary summit on migration.

Migrant crisis in Europe: Key dates

  • 13 July: Hungary starts building razor-wire fence on border with Serbia
  • 25 Aug: Germany says all Syrian refugees can apply for asylum there, regardless of which EU country they first entered
  • 2 Sept: Image of body of three-year-old Syrian Alan Kurdi, washed ashore in Turkey, moves public opinion worldwide
  • 12 Sept: Record 4,330 migrants cross into Hungary
  • 13 Sept: In a switch of policy, Germany introduces border controls with Austria - other EU nations later impose their own controls
  • 15 Sept: Hungary enforces tough laws on migrants crossing its border fence, prompting thousands to turn to Croatian route
  • 18 Sept: Croatia transports migrants over its border into Hungary, where Hungary rushes to build new fence

A note on terminology: The BBC uses the term migrant to refer to all people on the move who have yet to complete the legal process of claiming asylum. This group includes people fleeing war-torn countries such as Syria, who are likely to be granted refugee status, as well as people who are seeking jobs and better lives, who governments are likely to rule are economic migrants.