ROSZKE, Hungary (AP) — Record numbers of migrants are arriving in Hungary across its southern border with Serbia, many of them carrying babies, marching down train tracks and crawling under spools of razor wire.
Police said they detained 3,241 migrants on Wednesday, over 700 more than a day earlier and the highest number so far. Many are from Syria and want to reach richer EU countries to make an asylum claim.
Omar, a university student from Daraa, Syria, said he was going to Germany, like many of his countrymen, because it was "a powerful country ... good country to live in."
Omar entered Hungary with a group of friends by walking on railroad tracks — some of the few sections of the border without razor wire — and quickly sought cover in a cornfield to avoid being found by Hungarian police. Other refugees seemed disoriented in the maze-like field and appeared to be unwittingly walking back toward Serbia.
"I have a bad feeling to leave my family in Syria," Omar said. "We didn't want to leave our country in that way. Nobody would do that, but we want to complete our life, we can't live like that."
In Szeged, the largest Hungarian city in border region with Serbia, authorities started using trains dedicated exclusively to transporting migrants to refugee centers around the country.
Until now, police would put migrants on the last couple of wagons of regularly scheduled trains going to Budapest, the Hungarian capital, where the migrants would transfer to other trains going to the refugee centers. But with the number of migrants reaching new records every day, new policies are being applied.
Nearly 145,000 migrants have been detained in Hungary by police so far this year, over three times as many as in all of 2014. The government said about 40,000 of the migrants said they were from Syria.
Many migrants walking into Hungary from Serbia seek out police and indicate their intention to apply for asylum. After being registered and fingerprinted, they are sent to overcrowded refugee centers. Many, however, try instead to move on to Germany, the Netherlands, and other wealthier EU countries.