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Eight die as car carrying suspected migrants falls into Albanian ravine

police officers inspect the scene of a deadly car crash, near kelcyre
Police work at the scene of the car crash near Kelcyre, Albania, April 2, 2024. REUTERS/Florion Goga

Eight people died in southern Albania on Tuesday when a car carrying suspected migrants swerved off a mountain road into a ravine, police said.

The car fell on the rocky bank of the fast-flowing Vjosa River below a road that police say is frequently used by migrants from the Middle East and Africa to cross the Balkan country, police official Ardian Cipa told Reuters.

“The driver is from north Albania, we are trying to identify him,” Cipa said. “We believe the others are illegal migrants.”

The charred and crumpled vehicle was surrounded by at least four bodies strewn over the rocks, a Reuters witness said. Police taped off the area.

A police patrol spotted a car driving at high speed along the road in the early hours of Tuesday, but could not stop it. They later found the vehicle crashed in the ravine, Cipa said.

Since 2015, Balkan countries have become key transit routes for refugees and migrants from the Middle East, Afghanistan, Asia and Africa fleeing wars and poverty to the European Union. Many use smuggling networks to help them.

Last month, Albania, which is a member of NATO and aspires to join the EU, ratified a migration deal with Italy under which Rome will build migrant processing centres in the Balkan country.

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