Munich (dpa) – The flow of refugees crossing from Hungary into Austria slowed to a trickle early Sunday, after 10,000 migrants poured into the country the previous day, with many of them journeying onwards to Germany.
However, more newcomers were expected to arrive. At least 1,000 people made the 10 kilometre trek from the Hungarian border town of Hegyeshalom to Nickelsdorf, Austria around midnight and were awaiting rail connections, the Austrian news agency APA reported.
From Nickelsdorf, the migrants were catching trains into larger cities and to Germany, where nearly 7,000 entered on Saturday via 26 trains to Munich, police said. Rail operators in both countries have increased capacity to handle the influx.
Once in Munich, they were being distributed by bus and rail to refugee centres across the country.
The refugees, many of them sick and exhausted from their treacherous weeks-long odyssey out of war-torn countries, were often greeted by Germans and Austrians with applause and cheers of “welcome,” along with food, gifts and medicine.
The wave of migrants began early Saturday when, in a surprise move, Hungarian authorities deployed dozens of buses to take the thousands of refugees that had been stranded at Budapest’s Keleti rail station, which had become a makeshift refugee camp, to the Austrian frontier.
For days the Hungarian government had refused the migrants train travel out of the country, citing EU rules that require asylum seekers to register and take refuge in the first EU state they arrive in. Many of the migrants wanted to get to Germany, Europe’s strongest economy, which has opened its doors to Syrian refugees.
After consultations among authorities in Germany, Austria and Hungary, an exception to the asylum regulations was made at the weekend, allowing the refugees’ travel out of Hungary.
But some 1,000 newly arrived migrants were now camped out in Budapest and it was not clear if they would be granted permission to leave and obtain transport to Austria. Several hundred others began the long walk to the border.
Many of the people cross into Hungary by way of Serbia. Police there said 744 migrants, including 169 children, were counted on Saturday compared to the 1,500 to 3,000 that had been arriving per day in recent weeks.