BERLIN (AP) — A vehicle apparently packed with migrants left a highway in southern Germany at high speed on Friday and crashed as the driver tried to evade a police check, killing seven people and injuring 16, authorities said.
The accident happened near Ampfing, east of Munich on the A94 highway, which leads to the Austrian border. The van left the road and overturned.
Police described the van, which had 23 people on board, as “a suspected smuggler vehicle.” They said prosecutors had opened a homicide investigation.
Bavaria’s top security official, state Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann, said that the dead included a young child. The injured were taken to nearby hospitals.
The Austrian-registered van was designed to carry nine people, and it wouldn’t have been possible for many of the people on board to use seat belts, German news agency dpa reported. Police said the vehicle was carrying Syrians and Turks, while the driver was a stateless man resident in Austria.
“The inhuman behavior of the smuggler, who was injured in the accident and wanted to evade being stopped by the federal police just to save his own skin, makes one speechless,” Herrmann said.
Germany has seen large numbers of migrants arriving in recent months. The A94 is known as a smuggling route and the site of the accident is about 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the border with Austria, through which many migrants transit en route to Germany.
Herrmann, whose conservative party belongs to Germany’s main opposition bloc, told dpa that Friday’s incident shows “how important it is to further strengthen immediate border controls in order to stop smugglers already at the border.”