Eight dead after car carrying suspected migrants crashes in Albania

A damaged vehicle that crashed into the Vjosa River about 240 kilometres southeast of Tirana, Albania
A damaged vehicle that crashed into the Vjosa River about 240 kilometres southeast of Tirana, Albania Copyright Uncredited/AP
Copyright Uncredited/AP
By Euronews with AP
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Albania is a route for some migrants heading for the EU, which is working with the country to close off paths into the bloc.

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Eight people, including seven thought to be migrants, have died after the car they were travelling in swerved off a mountain road into the Vjosa River in southeastern Albania. 

Authorities said the driver failed to stop at a checkpoint and sped away. According to regional police chief Ardian Cipa, officers followed the car and later saw that it had crashed into the river about 240 kilometres southeast of the capital, Tirana.

It is believed the driver lost control of the car and veered into the river at about 4am local time.

“It is suspected the driver is from Shkodra and the others are suspected to be migrants who frequently pass this road,” Cipa said.

A police statement said seven of the victims were suspected to be “from third countries,” it said, a description often used to refer to migrants.

Albania itself is not a primary route for migrants but small groups from Arab countries or Asia use it to reach Italy by sea or other neighbouring countries by land. The region is a transit hub and key corridor for migrants heading for the EU, especially from the Middle East, Asia and Africa, according to the European Council.

In 2019, Albania became the first non-EU member country to have officers of the bloc’s border agency, Frontex, manage its borders in the south and east, and fight cross-border crime.

In February, Albania’s parliament approved a deal for the country to hold thousands of asylum seekers for Italy.

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