Four Kurds seeking to migrate to Europe died on Monday when the truck they were being transported in crashed in Croatia.
“There were 24 people on the truck, including two women, and three girls,” Adnan Hassan, a survivor of the accident told Rudaw’s Dilbxwin Dara on Monday, saying that they were all from northeastern Syria (Rojava).
According to Hassan, the truck crashed as they were trying to drive to Italy.
“We are now at a hospital in Croatia. We have 11 people injured in one hospital, but there are 13 others in another hospital, where we have been told four have died and the rest are in critical condition,” Hassan added.
According to ABC News, the injured include at least one child and that a man had to have his arm amputated due to the severity of his injuries.
The immigrants had first travelled from Syria to Turkey, then to Serbia and Croatia, and they were hoping to reach Germany through Italy, according to Hassan.
Scores of people travel across the Middle East and cross borders into Europe on a daily basis in hopes of a better life.
According to statistics released by Sulaimani-based Summit Foundation for Refugee and Displaced Affairs (Lutka) in December, 34,000 people migrated to Europe from across Iraq last year. Of this number, 18 died and 17 went missing.
“We are yet to confirm the dead’s identities to see whether they were in the Kurdistan Region or had taken off from Syria,” Botan Sharbazhery, deputy head of Lutka told Rudaw’s Shaho Amin on Monday. “If they were from Syria, then we can only ease the legal process for them. However if they were in the Kurdistan Region, we ask their families to fill out an online form we have – and our volunteers abroad will get on the case.”
The crash happened on a highway near the border with Bosnia, Croatian police said in a statement. The truck had Serbian license plates, the statement said.
Croatian state HRT television reported that the truck was transporting heavy paper rolls that crushed some of the migrants who were hiding among the cargo when the vehicle overturned.
A local official, Zlatko Pjes, told HRT that at least 11 people were transported to hospitals in the area, including some with serious injuries. He said the migrants were Syrian.
“We found a very difficult situation, people crying for help,” Pjes later told the Index news portal. He said the top of truck came off and some migrants fell out, and that “those who did fall out ended up with light injuries while those left inside paid with their lives.”
It was not immediately clear what caused the crash near the Croatian town of Okucani, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) southeast of the capital, Zagreb.