Hungarian police have launched an investigation after an online video showed a crowd of migrants being fed “like animals in a pen”.
The people are seen clamouring for food in a hangar at a reception centre as police in surgical masks throw out packs of sandwiches.
Women and children were caught in the chaotic scrum as hungry people frantically tried to catch the bread flying through the air.
The description of the footage says it was taken at a refugee camp in Roszke on Hungary’s southern border with Serbia, where thousands of migrants have been crossing into the European Union every day.
The video was posted on the YouTube channel of Austrian politician Alexander Spritzendorfer, and supposedly taken by his wife Michaela Spritzendorfer-Ehrenhauser.
“It was like animals being fed in a pen, like Guantanamo in Europe,” said Klaus Kufner, a volunteer who was with the woman who recorded the images, referring to the prison camp where the US is accused of torturing inmates.
“It was inhumane and it really speaks for these people that they didn’t fight over the food despite being clearly very hungry,” said Spritzendorfer, the wife of a Viennese councillor with Austria’s Green Party.
Police said they had launched an “emergency inquiry” into the matter, describing it as a fact-finding investigation, without elaborating.
Government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs said in an emailed response: “I can see policemen who have been performing their duties for months, trying to take care of 23,000 migrants arriving continuously day by day while there is no co-operation whatsoever on their part.
“I can see they are trying to maintain order among those who are unable to line up for food,” he said.
There are growing signs of Hungary’s inability to handle the flood of more than 170,000 people this year fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and Africa.
On Thursday alone, police captured a record 3,601 migrants on the border, according to the police website.
Refugees stranded at the border have waited days to be registered, while conditions at makeshift frontier camps are basic. Medical care for the crowds at Budapest’s railway stations has been provided entirely by volunteers.
Spritzendorfer-Ehrenhauser, who works for the Austrian Catholic diocese of Sankt Poelten, said she took the footage while delivering sanitary supplies to the camp with the Hungarian Red Cross.
“It was around 8 o’clock and they were giving dinner to people,” she said. “There were maybe 100 people trying to catch these plastic bags with sausages... They were not able to organise a camp and treat them like human beings.”
Meanwhile a Hungarian camerawoman caught on video kicking and tripping migrants near the Serbian border has offered an apology for her behaviour.
Petra Laszlo said in a letter published in the daily Magyar Nemzet newspaper that she was “sincerely sorry for what happened”, but added: “I was scared as they streamed toward me, and then something snapped inside me.”
The 40-year-old was fired by the right-wing N1TV online channel after footage of her kicking and tripping migrants fleeing from police near the village of Roszke went viral on social media.
Police questioned her on suspicion of disorderly conduct on Thursday. Officers released her without charge and said the investigation is continuing. N1TV’s editor Szabolcs Kisberk said her employment was “terminated with immediate effect”, adding that she “behaved unacceptably”.
In videos and images posted online by multiple reporters, Ms Laszlo could be seen making sideways karate-style kicks into the knees of two people – a young man and a teenage girl – as they ran past her. Both stumbled but neither fell as Ms Laszlo continued filming.
She was also seen filming a running man carrying a young boy in his arms then sticking out her leg to trip him as he passed. The man and boy tumbled to the ground, the man falling on top of the child. The boy could be seen crying as the man leapt up to curse the camerawoman, who continued to film him.
Thousands of refugees are trekking to Vienna from Austria’s main border crossing point with Hungary after rail traffic was suspended due to overcrowding.
Rail services between Vienna and the Hungarian capital Budapest were suspended on Thursday. With no trains running, thousands of people set out on the major road linking the Nickelsdorf border crossing with Vienna, 40 miles away.
Police official Hans Peter Doskozil said 7,500 people crossed into Austria at Nickelsdorf on Thursday.
Meanwhile, thousands more refugees endured torrential rain as they crossed from Greece into Macedonia.
About 7,000 people made their way past police in camouflage jackets as they contended with poor weather and muddy conditions.
The sudden onset of autumn took tens of thousands by surprise.
Last week, those making the epic journey, much of it on foot, were baking in a region-wide heatwave. Now they are without shelter and struggling to keep camp fires burning.
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