Confusion and chaos as migrants pour into Budapest train station

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Migrants Crowd Train as Police Reopen Budapest Station


Hungarian police allowed hundreds of migrants to pour into Budapest's main railway station on Thursday but authorities canceled all trains to western Europe, triggering chaos and confusion.

Hundreds of people, many of them refugees from conflicts in the Middle East, stormed a waiting train, cramming children through open windows in the belief a two-day standoff with police had ended and they were being allowed to continue their journey west to Austria,Germany and beyond.

But signs in Hungarian said there were no west-bound trains. It was unclear why the police had suddenly withdrawn, having prevented over 2,000 migrants from entering for two days.

See photos of the migrant crisis in Hungary:

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Migrants being stopped in Hungary
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Confusion and chaos as migrants pour into Budapest train station
Migrants struggle to board a train at the railway station in Budapest, Hungary, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015. Over 150,000 migrants have reached Hungary this year, most coming through the southern border with Serbia, and many apply for asylum but quickly try to leave for richer EU countries.(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
A young child cries as hundreds of migrants try to board a train at the Keleti Railway Station in Budapest, Hungary, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015. Over 150,000 migrants have reached Hungary this year, most coming through the southern border with Serbia. Many apply for asylum but quickly try to leave for richer EU countries. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Migrants try to board a train at the railway station in Budapest, Hungary, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015. Over 150,000 migrants have reached Hungary this year, most coming through the southern border with Serbia, and many apply for asylum but quickly try to leave for richer EU countries.(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Migrants try to board a train at the railway station in Budapest, Hungary, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015. Over 150,000 migrants have reached Hungary this year, most coming through the southern border with Serbia, and many apply for asylum but quickly try to leave for richer EU countries.(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Migrants enter the main gate at the railway station in Budapest, Hungary, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015. Over 150,000 migrants have reached Hungary this year, most coming through the southern border with Serbia, and many apply for asylum but quickly try to leave for richer EU countries.(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Migrants wash at a water place in front of the railwaystation in Budapest, Hungary, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015. Over 150,000 migrants have reached Hungary this year, most coming through the southern border with Serbia, and many apply for asylum but quickly try to leave for richer EU countries.(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Supporters and activists of the Migration Aid civil group hold a demonstration in support of migrants at Kossuth Square, in front of the Hungarian Parliament building in Budapest, Hungary, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015. Over 150,000 migrants have reached Hungary this year, most coming through the southern border with Serbia. Many apply for asylum but quickly try to leave for richer EU countries. (Noemi Bruzak/MTI via AP)
Hungarian policemen stand guard near to the Hungarian town of Roszke at the border with Serbia, on Wednesday Sept. 2, 2015. The 28-nation European Union has been at odds for months on how to deal with the influx of more than 332,000 migrants this year as Greece, Italy and Hungary have pleaded for more help. (AP Photo/Santi Palacios)
A group of refugees walk on the railway tracks after crossing from Serbia, in Roszke, Hungary, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015. Migrants fearful of death at sea in overcrowded and flimsy boats have increasingly turned to using a land route towards Europe through the Western Balkans. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)
Hundreds of migrants wait in front of the Keleti Railway Station after police stopped them from boarding trains to Germany, Budapest, Hungary, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
A woman rests in a tent as hundreds of migrants wait near the Keleti Railway Station after police stopped them from boarding trains to Germany, in Budapest, Hungary, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - SEPTEMBER 01: Migrants gather in the transit zone near Keleti station in central Budapest on September 1, 2015 in Budapest, Hungary. The station was closed today and was said to be an attempt by the Hungarian government to uphold EU law and restore order after recent choatic scenes at the station. According to the Hungarian authorities a record number of migrants from many parts of the Middle East, Africa and Asia crossed the border from Serbia earlier this week, said to be due in part to the erection of a new fence that is due to be completed at the end of this month. Since the beginning of 2015 the number of migrants using the so-called Balkans route has exploded with migrants arriving in Greece from Turkey and then travelling on through Macedonia and Serbia before entering the EU via Hungary. The massive increase, said to be the largest migration of people since World War II, led Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban to order Hungary's army to build a steel and barbed wire security barrier along its entire border with Serbia, after more than 100,000 asylum seekers from a variety of countries and war zones entered the country so far this year. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - SEPTEMBER 01: Migrants gather in the transit zone near Keleti station in central Budapest on September 1, 2015 in Budapest, Hungary. The station was closed today and was said to be an attempt by the Hungarian government to uphold EU law and restore order after recent choatic scenes at the station. According to the Hungarian authorities a record number of migrants from many parts of the Middle East, Africa and Asia crossed the border from Serbia earlier this week, said to be due in part to the erection of a new fence that is due to be completed at the end of this month. Since the beginning of 2015 the number of migrants using the so-called Balkans route has exploded with migrants arriving in Greece from Turkey and then travelling on through Macedonia and Serbia before entering the EU via Hungary. The massive increase, said to be the largest migration of people since World War II, led Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban to order Hungary's army to build a steel and barbed wire security barrier along its entire border with Serbia, after more than 100,000 asylum seekers from a variety of countries and war zones entered the country so far this year. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - SEPTEMBER 01: Migrants gather in the transit zone at Keleti station in central Budapest on September 1, 2015 in Budapest, Hungary. The station was closed today and was said to be an attempt by the Hungarian government to uphold EU law and restore order after recent choatic scenes at the station. According to the Hungarian authorities a record number of migrants from many parts of the Middle East, Africa and Asia crossed the border from Serbia earlier this week, said to be due in part to the erection of a new fence that is due to be completed at the end of this month. Since the beginning of 2015 the number of migrants using the so-called Balkans route has exploded with migrants arriving in Greece from Turkey and then travelling on through Macedonia and Serbia before entering the EU via Hungary. The massive increase, said to be the largest migration of people since World War II, led Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban to order Hungary's army to build a steel and barbed wire security barrier along its entire border with Serbia, after more than 100,000 asylum seekers from a variety of countries and war zones entered the country so far this year. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - SEPTEMBER 01: Migrants gather in the transit zone near Keleti station in central Budapest on September 1, 2015 in Budapest, Hungary. The station was closed today and was said to be an attempt by the Hungarian government to uphold EU law and restore order after recent choatic scenes at the station. According to the Hungarian authorities a record number of migrants from many parts of the Middle East, Africa and Asia crossed the border from Serbia earlier this week, said to be due in part to the erection of a new fence that is due to be completed at the end of this month. Since the beginning of 2015 the number of migrants using the so-called Balkans route has exploded with migrants arriving in Greece from Turkey and then travelling on through Macedonia and Serbia before entering the EU via Hungary. The massive increase, said to be the largest migration of people since World War II, led Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban to order Hungary's army to build a steel and barbed wire security barrier along its entire border with Serbia, after more than 100,000 asylum seekers from a variety of countries and war zones entered the country so far this year. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - SEPTEMBER 01: Migrants gather in front of Keleti station in central Budapest on September 1, 2015 in Budapest, Hungary. The station was closed today and was said to be an attempt by the Hungarian government to uphold EU law and restore order after recent choatic scenes at the station. According to the Hungarian authorities a record number of migrants from many parts of the Middle East, Africa and Asia crossed the border from Serbia earlier this week, said to be due in part to the erection of a new fence that is due to be completed at the end of this month. Since the beginning of 2015 the number of migrants using the so-called Balkans route has exploded with migrants arriving in Greece from Turkey and then travelling on through Macedonia and Serbia before entering the EU via Hungary. The massive increase, said to be the largest migration of people since World War II, led Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban to order Hungary's army to build a steel and barbed wire security barrier along its entire border with Serbia, after more than 100,000 asylum seekers from a variety of countries and war zones entered the country so far this year. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - SEPTEMBER 01: Migrants gather in the transit zone near Keleti station in central Budapest on September 1, 2015 in Budapest, Hungary. The station was closed today and was said to be an attempt by the Hungarian government to uphold EU law and restore order after recent choatic scenes at the station. According to the Hungarian authorities a record number of migrants from many parts of the Middle East, Africa and Asia crossed the border from Serbia earlier this week, said to be due in part to the erection of a new fence that is due to be completed at the end of this month. Since the beginning of 2015 the number of migrants using the so-called Balkans route has exploded with migrants arriving in Greece from Turkey and then travelling on through Macedonia and Serbia before entering the EU via Hungary. The massive increase, said to be the largest migration of people since World War II, led Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban to order Hungary's army to build a steel and barbed wire security barrier along its entire border with Serbia, after more than 100,000 asylum seekers from a variety of countries and war zones entered the country so far this year. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - SEPTEMBER 01: Migrants gather in the transit zone near Keleti station in central Budapest on September 1, 2015 in Budapest, Hungary. The station was closed today and was said to be an attempt by the Hungarian government to uphold EU law and restore order after recent choatic scenes at the station. According to the Hungarian authorities a record number of migrants from many parts of the Middle East, Africa and Asia crossed the border from Serbia earlier this week, said to be due in part to the erection of a new fence that is due to be completed at the end of this month. Since the beginning of 2015 the number of migrants using the so-called Balkans route has exploded with migrants arriving in Greece from Turkey and then travelling on through Macedonia and Serbia before entering the EU via Hungary. The massive increase, said to be the largest migration of people since World War II, led Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban to order Hungary's army to build a steel and barbed wire security barrier along its entire border with Serbia, after more than 100,000 asylum seekers from a variety of countries and war zones entered the country so far this year. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - SEPTEMBER 01: A mother carries her infant girl as migrants protest outside Keleti station in central Budapest after it was closed to migrants earlier today on September 1, 2015 in Budapest, Hungary. The closure was said to be an attempt by the Hungarian government to uphold EU law and restore order after recent choatic scenes at the station. According to the Hungarian authorities a record number of migrants from many parts of the Middle East, Africa and Asia crossed the border from Serbia earlier this week, said to be due in part to the erection of a new fence that is due to be completed at the end of this month. Since the beginning of 2015 the number of migrants using the so-called Balkans route has exploded with migrants arriving in Greece from Turkey and then travelling on through Macedonia and Serbia before entering the EU via Hungary. The massive increase, said to be the largest migration of people since World War II, led Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban to order Hungary's army to build a steel and barbed wire security barrier along its entire border with Serbia, after more than 100,000 asylum seekers from a variety of countries and war zones entered the country so far this year. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - SEPTEMBER 01: Hungarian police guard the main entrance as migrants protest outside Keleti station in central Budapest after it was closed to migrants earlier today on September 1, 2015 in Budapest, Hungary. The closure was said to be an attempt by the Hungarian government to uphold EU law and restore order after recent choatic scenes at the station. According to the Hungarian authorities a record number of migrants from many parts of the Middle East, Africa and Asia crossed the border from Serbia earlier this week, said to be due in part to the erection of a new fence that is due to be completed at the end of this month. Since the beginning of 2015 the number of migrants using the so-called Balkans route has exploded with migrants arriving in Greece from Turkey and then travelling on through Macedonia and Serbia before entering the EU via Hungary. The massive increase, said to be the largest migration of people since World War II, led Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban to order Hungary's army to build a steel and barbed wire security barrier along its entire border with Serbia, after more than 100,000 asylum seekers from a variety of countries and war zones entered the country so far this year. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - SEPTEMBER 01: A young girl holds up a handmade flag of Afghanistan as migrants protest outside Keleti station in central Budapest after it was closed to migrants earlier today on September 1, 2015 in Budapest, Hungary. The closure was said to be an attempt by the Hungarian government to uphold EU law and restore order after recent choatic scenes at the station. According to the Hungarian authorities a record number of migrants from many parts of the Middle East, Africa and Asia crossed the border from Serbia earlier this week, said to be due in part to the erection of a new fence that is due to be completed at the end of this month. Since the beginning of 2015 the number of migrants using the so-called Balkans route has exploded with migrants arriving in Greece from Turkey and then travelling on through Macedonia and Serbia before entering the EU via Hungary. The massive increase, said to be the largest migration of people since World War II, led Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban to order Hungary's army to build a steel and barbed wire security barrier along its entire border with Serbia, after more than 100,000 asylum seekers from a variety of countries and war zones entered the country so far this year. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - SEPTEMBER 01: Migrants protest outside Keleti station in central Budapest after it was closed to migrants earlier today on September 1, 2015 in Budapest, Hungary. The closure was said to be an attempt by the Hungarian government to uphold EU law and restore order after recent choatic scenes at the station. According to the Hungarian authorities a record number of migrants from many parts of the Middle East, Africa and Asia crossed the border from Serbia earlier this week, said to be due in part to the erection of a new fence that is due to be completed at the end of this month. Since the beginning of 2015 the number of migrants using the so-called Balkans route has exploded with migrants arriving in Greece from Turkey and then travelling on through Macedonia and Serbia before entering the EU via Hungary. The massive increase, said to be the largest migration of people since World War II, led Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban to order Hungary's army to build a steel and barbed wire security barrier along its entire border with Serbia, after more than 100,000 asylum seekers from a variety of countries and war zones entered the country so far this year. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - SEPTEMBER 01: Migrants protest outside Keleti station in central Budapest after it was closed to migrants earlier today on September 1, 2015 in Budapest, Hungary. The closure was said to be an attempt by the Hungarian government to uphold EU law and restore order after recent choatic scenes at the station. According to the Hungarian authorities a record number of migrants from many parts of the Middle East, Africa and Asia crossed the border from Serbia earlier this week, said to be due in part to the erection of a new fence that is due to be completed at the end of this month. Since the beginning of 2015 the number of migrants using the so-called Balkans route has exploded with migrants arriving in Greece from Turkey and then travelling on through Macedonia and Serbia before entering the EU via Hungary. The massive increase, said to be the largest migration of people since World War II, led Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban to order Hungary's army to build a steel and barbed wire security barrier along its entire border with Serbia, after more than 100,000 asylum seekers from a variety of countries and war zones entered the country so far this year. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - SEPTEMBER 01: Migrants protest outside Keleti station in central Budapest after it was closed to migrants earlier today on September 1, 2015 in Budapest, Hungary. The closure was said to be an attempt by the Hungarian government to uphold EU law and restore order after recent choatic scenes at the station. According to the Hungarian authorities a record number of migrants from many parts of the Middle East, Africa and Asia crossed the border from Serbia earlier this week, said to be due in part to the erection of a new fence that is due to be completed at the end of this month. Since the beginning of 2015 the number of migrants using the so-called Balkans route has exploded with migrants arriving in Greece from Turkey and then travelling on through Macedonia and Serbia before entering the EU via Hungary. The massive increase, said to be the largest migration of people since World War II, led Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban to order Hungary's army to build a steel and barbed wire security barrier along its entire border with Serbia, after more than 100,000 asylum seekers from a variety of countries and war zones entered the country so far this year. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - SEPTEMBER 1: Police forces stand guard when migrants wait at the main Eastern Railway station in Budapest, Hungary, September 1, 2015. Hungary closed Budapest's main Eastern Railway station on Tuesday morning with no trains departing or arriving until further notice, a spokesman for state railway company MAV said. There are hundreds of migrants at the station, trying to get to Germany. (Photo by Arpad Kurucz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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"There's a German flag on this train so we though it went to Germany. So it's not going toGermany?" a man clinging with one hand to the doors of a train told a Reuters journalist, declining to be named.

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

Hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing wars, as well as economic migrants escaping poverty, have been arriving in Europe by rickety boat across the Mediterranean or over land across the Balkan peninsula, straining the bloc's asylum system to breaking point and confounding efforts to forge a united policy.

The police withdrawal coincided with the start of a special parliamentary session in Hungary to debate tightening migration laws, setting up "transit zones" on the border with Serbia and introducing tougher punishment for those who cross illegally.

BORDER FENCE

Hungary is completing a 3.5 meter-high fence on its southern border with Serbia to keep out migrants, 140,000 of whom have been caught entering the country so far this year.

The government said the new measures to be adopted by parliament this week would be enacted by Sept 15 and cut illegal border crossings to zero.

In an opinion piece for Germany's Frankfurt Allgemeine Zeitung, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said his country was being "overrun" with refugees, most of which, he noted, were Muslims, not Christians.

"That is an important question, because Europe and European culture have Christian roots. Or is it not already and in itself alarming that Europe's Christian culture is barely in a position to uphold Europe's own Christian values?" he asked.

"Only when we have protected our borders can questions be asked about the numbers of people we can take in, or whether there should be quotas."

Nearly all those who have entered Hungary press on west to the richer countries of northern and western Europe, ignoring EU rules which require them to wait for processing in the EU country where they first arrive.

Germany expects to receive 800,000 this year and has begun accepting asylum claims from Syrian refugees regardless of where they entered the bloc, even though undocumented migrants are theoretically barred from travel across the EU.

That has caused confusion for its neighbors, which have alternated this week between letting them through and blocking them. Hungary allowed thousands to board trains forGermany on Monday but then called a halt to the travel, leaving migrants camped in the summer heat in central Budapest.

Seventeen-year-old Ysra Mardini, from the Syrian capital Damascus, was among those waiting at the train station.

"We want to go to Germany but that train in the station, maybe it goes nowhere. We heard it may go to a camp. So we will stay out here and wait," she said.

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