Nine people from Pakistan and Afghanistan have died after a minibus transporting them through Bulgaria crashed on the highway. The bus was reportedly driven by a 16-year-old Bulgarian who did not have a license.
The crash took place on a highway near Pazardjik, which is close to Bulgaria's borders with Greece and Turkey.
Police said the passengers who were killed did not have any identification documents with them, but survivors of the accident told authorities that they were Pakistani and Afghan nationals.
Nine of those who died were migrants. The 10th victim was a 16-year-old Bulgarian who was apparently driving the bus. The Interior Ministry reported that the driver had a criminal record and no license.
The Bulgarian television channel bTV reported that the teen likely fell asleep behind the wheel. The Interior Ministry's statement reported that the exact cause of the crash was still under investigation.
Bulgaria, an EU member, has become a main entry point for migrants traveling to Western and Northern Europe via the officially closed Balkan route. Recently, the country has seen a fall in the number of people illegally crossing its southeastern border with Turkey, which is almost completely sealed with a razor wire-topped fence.
In May, Bulgarian authorities estimated that about 3,000 people have entered the country and continued their journeys illegally so far this year.
Another 3,000 people remain stranded in Bulgaria's refugee shelters, according to the latest data from the Interior Ministry.
rs/jm (AFP, dpa)