December 29, 2016 / 9:18 AM / a year ago

Three migrants die in traffic accident in Serbia's south - police

BELGRADE (Reuters) - Three Afghan migrants died and another 11, including six children were injured in a traffic accident in southern Serbia on Thursday when a passenger car crammed with people swerved off the road and hit a safety barrier, the interior ministry said.

The driver, a suspected smuggler, fled the scene, while all the injured were transported to the hospital in the nearby city of Nis, 200 kilometres (124 miles) south of Belgrade, the ministry said in a statement.

Two migrants were killed on the spot and a child later died in the hospital, Zoran Radovanovic, the director of a local hospital in Nis told reporters. “One woman had both legs amputated,” he said.

Serbia was a focal point for migrants last year, when hundreds of thousands fleeing wars and poverty in the Middle East and Asia travelled up through the Balkans to reach wealthy Western Europe.

Although that route was closed off in March, Serbian authorities estimate a further 110,000 migrants have passed through the country, many using smugglers to travel across Serbia and cross its barbed-wire border with Hungary.

On Monday, Serbian authorities arrested three men on suspicion of people trafficking after 77 migrants were found hidden in cargo vehicles.

According to the UN refugee agency, around 7,000 migrants are stranded in camps in Serbia.

Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Georgina Prodhan

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