Migrants Storm Train After Police Withdraw From Budapest Station

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
/ Source: Reuters

BUDAPEST, Hungary — Migrants poured into Budapest's main railway station on Thursday after Hungarian police withdrew following a two-day standoff, triggering chaotic scenes.

Hundreds stormed a train, cramming children through open windows in the belief they might travel west to Austria and Germany. Hungary's main railway operator, however, said there were no direct trains leaving to western Europe.

"Attention please, on Track 8 the train does not depart. Please get off the train," the station said over intercom.

A train full of migrants later left bound for Sopron, a town near the Austrian border. Its passengers were later told to get off at the town of Bicske, where Hungary has a migrant reception center.

When the train stopped at a police-packed platform, disappointed migrants started chanting "No camp!"

Scuffles later broke out between migrants and officers in riot gear.

Hungarian police officers stand by migrants at the railway station in the town of Bicske, Hungary,on Thursday.LASZLO BALOGH / Reuters

Several hundred migrants have remained on or beside the idling train at Bicske for hours. Police have distributed water, but many migrants have refused it or thrown it back, fearing it could contain sedatives.

Over 2,000 migrants, many of them refugees from conflicts in the Middle East and Africa, had been camped in front of the Keleti Railway Terminus in Budapest, closed to them by authorities saying European Union rules bar travel by those without valid documents.

The standoff has become the latest symbol of Europe’s migration crisis, the continent’s worst since the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s.

The police withdrawal at the station coincided with the start of a special parliamentary session to debate tightening migration laws and punishment for those caught trying to breach a 11-foot high fence Hungary is building on its border with Serbia.

Senior ruling party lawmaker Gergely Gulyas said the amendments could be passed this week and cut the number of illegal border crossings to “zero” by mid-September.

Migrants storm trains in the Keleti train station in Budapest, Hungary, on Thursday.LASZLO BALOGH / Reuters

Meanwhile, Vienna's police chief said that any refugees arriving in the Austrian capital from Hungary would not be controlled or registered and would be allowed to continue their journey onwards.

"What we certainly can't do is check all those people coming through, establish all their identities, or possibly even arrest them — we can't do this, and we have no plans to do this," Gerhard Puerstl told reporters.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed.