Austria, Germany open borders to migrants offloaded by Hungary

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Austria and Germany threw open their borders to thousands of exhausted migrants on Saturday, bussed to the Hungarian border by a right-wing government that had tried to stop them but was overwhelmed by the sheer numbers reaching Europe's frontiers.

Left to walk the last yards into Austria, rain-soaked migrants, many of them refugees from Syria's civil war, were whisked by train and shuttle bus to Vienna, where authorities prompted arranged for thousands to head straight on to Germany.

See the thousands of migrants streaming towards the Austrian border:

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Austria, Germany open borders to migrants offloaded by Hungary
NICKELSDORF, AUSTRIA - SEPTEMBER 05: Migrants wait for buses to take them onwards into Austria after they crossed the border from Hungary into Austria on September 5, 2015 near Nickelsdorf, Austria. Last night the Hungarian government ordered a fleet of buses to take migrants who had been stranded by the cancellation of international trains at the main Keleti Railway Station and also to collect migrants that had began a walk from Budapest yesterday along the M1 motorway to Austria. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
NICKELSDORF, AUSTRIA - SEPTEMBER 05: Migrants wait for buses to take them onwards into Austria after they crossed the border from Hungary into Austria on September 5, 2015 near Nickelsdorf, Austria. Last night the Hungarian government ordered a fleet of buses to take migrants who had been stranded by the cancellation of international trains at the main Keleti Railway Station and also to collect migrants that had began a walk from Budapest yesterday along the M1 motorway to Austria. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
NICKELSDORF, AUSTRIA - SEPTEMBER 05: Migrants wait for buses to take them onwards into Austria after they crossed the border from Hungary into Austria on September 5, 2015 near Nickelsdorf, Austria. Last night the Hungarian government ordered a fleet of buses to take migrants who had been stranded by the cancellation of international trains at the main Keleti Railway Station and also to collect migrants that had began a walk from Budapest yesterday along the M1 motorway to Austria. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
NICKELSDORF, AUSTRIA - SEPTEMBER 05: Migrants pass as vehicles queue to cross the border from Hungary into Austria on September 5, 2015 near Nickelsdorf, Austria. Last night the Hungarian government ordered a fleet of buses to take migrants who had been stranded by the cancellation of international trains at the main Keleti Railway Station and also to collect migrants that had began a walk from Budapest yesterday along the M1 motorway to Austria. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
NICKELSDORF, AUSTRIA - SEPTEMBER 05: A migrant looks out of the window of a bus that is queuing to cross the border from Hungary into Austria on September 5, 2015 near Nickelsdorf, Austria. Last night the Hungarian government ordered a fleet of buses to take migrants who had been stranded by the cancellation of international trains at the main Keleti Railway Station and also to collect migrants that had began a walk from Budapest yesterday along the M1 motorway to Austria. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
NICKELSDORF, AUSTRIA - SEPTEMBER 05: Migrants take a selfie as they wait for buses to take them onwards into Austria after they crossed the border from Hungary into Austria on September 5, 2015 near Nickelsdorf, Austria. Last night the Hungarian government ordered a fleet of buses to take migrants who had been stranded by the cancellation of international trains at the main Keleti Railway Station and also to collect migrants that had began a walk from Budapest yesterday along the M1 motorway to Austria. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
Migrants arrive on the Hungarian-Austrian border near Nickelsdorf in early hours on September 5, 2015, from where they wish to head to Salzburg on the German-Austrian border. The first bus carrying migrants who have been stranded in the Hungarian capital reached the Austrian border early September 5, after Vienna and Berlin agreed to take in thousands of refugees desperate to start new lives in Western Europe. Some 2,500-3,000 migrants have entered Austria from Hungary in the past few hours, Austrian police said early September 5. AFP PHOTO/JOE KLAMAR (Photo credit should read JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images)
A migrant carries a child on his shoulders upon arrival at the Westbahnhof railroadstation in Vienna, on September 5, 2015 as hundreds of migrants arrive by bus and train from Hungary to continue their journey to Germany. Hungary, which has become one of the newest flashpoints in Europe's migrant crisis, began bussing people who had been stuck in the capital Budapest. AFP PHOTO / DIETER NAGL (Photo credit should read DIETER NAGL/AFP/Getty Images)
Migrants walk on a road to enter Austria in early hours on September 5, 2015 at the village of Nickelsdorf at the Hungarian-Austrian border from where they head to Salzburg on the German-Austrian border. The refugees began arriving at the Austrian border in the night after Hungary, which has become one of the newest flashpoints in Europe's migrant crisis, began bussing people who had been stuck in the capital Budapest. AFP PHOTO / JOE KLAMAR (Photo credit should read JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images)
A migrants carries a child as they arrive at the Hungarian-Austrian border in Nickelsdorf, Austria, Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015, where they came from Budapest as Austria in the early-morning hours said it and Germany would let them in. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
A woman and her children sit as they have boarded a bus provided by Hungarian authorities for migrants and refugees at Keleti train station in Budapest, Hungary, Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015. Hundreds of migrants boarded buses provided by Hungary's government as Austria in the early-morning hours said it and Germany would let them in. Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann announced the decision early Saturday after speaking with Angela Merkel, his German counterpart - not long after Hungary's surprise nighttime move to provide buses for the weary travelers from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)
Migrants arrive at the Hungarian-Austrian border in Nickelsdorf, Austria, Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015, where they came from Budapest as Austria in the early-morning hours said it and Germany would let them in. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
A migrant raises his arms after arriving at the border station between Hegyeshalom, Hungary, and Nickelsdorf, Austria, Saturday morning Sept. 5, 2015, as hundreds of migrants came from Budapest as Austria in the early-morning hours said it and Germany would let them in. (AP Photo/Christian Bruna)
A woman with a sleeping child on her lap smiles after arriving at the border station between Hegyeshalom, Hungary, and Nickelsdorf, Austria, Saturday morning Sept. 5, 2015, as hundreds of migrants came from Budapest as Austria in the early-morning hours said it and Germany would let them in. (AP Photo/Christian Bruna)
A boy smiles as migrants arrive at the Hungarian-Austrian border in Nickelsdorf, Austria, Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015, where they came from Budapest as Austria in the early-morning hours said it and Germany would let them in. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Migrants arrive at the Hungarian-Austrian border in Nickelsdorf, Austria, Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015, where they came from Budapest as Austria in the early-morning hours said it and Germany would let them in. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Migrants queue as they arrive in an emergency shelter at the Hungarian-Austrian border in Nickelsdorf, Austria, Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015, where they arrived in buses provided by Hungary's government from Budapest as Austria in the early-morning hours said it and Germany would let them in. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Migrants are on a bus as it stops at a petrol station near Gyoer, Hungary, Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015. Hundreds of migrants, exhausted after breaking away from police and marching for hours toward Western Europe, boarded buses provided by Hungary's government as Austria in the early-morning hours said it and Germany would let them in. Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann announced the decision early Saturday after speaking with Angela Merkel, his German counterpart - not long after Hungary's surprise nighttime move to provide buses for the weary travelers from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
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German police said the first 1,000 of up to 10,000 migrants expected on Saturday had arrived on special trains in Munich. Austrian police said over 6,000 had entered the country by midday with more expected in what has become Europe's most acute refugee crisis since the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s.

Munich police said Arabic-speaking interpreters helped refugees with procedures at emergency registration centers. The seemingly efficient Austrian and German reception contrasted with the disorder prevalent in Hungary.

"It was just such a horrible situation in Hungary," said Omar, arriving in Vienna with his family.

In Budapest, almost emptied of migrants the night before, the main railway station was again filling up with new arrivals but trains to western Europe remained canceled. So hundreds set off by foot, saying they would walk to the Austrian border, 170 km (110 miles) away, like others had tried on Friday.

After days of confrontation and chaos, Hungary's government deployed over 100 buses overnight to take thousands of migrants to the Austrian frontier. Austria said it had agreed with Germany to allow the migrants access, waiving asylum rules that require them to register in the first EU state they reach.

Wrapped in blankets and sleeping bags against the rain, long lines of weary migrants, many carrying small, sleeping children, got off buses on the Hungarian side of the boundary and walked into Austria, receiving fruit and water from aid workers. Waiting Austrians held signs that read, "Refugees welcome".

"We're happy. We'll go to Germany," said a Syrian man who gave his name as Mohammed, naming Europe's famously biggest and most affluent economy that is the favored destination of many refugees. Another, who declined to be named, said: "Hungary should be fired from the European Union. Such bad treatment."

Hungary insisted the bus rides were a one-off, even as hundreds more migrants gathered in Budapest, part of a seemingly unrelenting human surge northwards through the Balkan peninsula from Turkey and Greece.

By contrast, the Austrian state railway company OeBB said it had added 4,600 seats for migrants by extending trains and laying on special, non-scheduled services.

DESPERATE MIGRANTS FORCE HUNGARY'S HAND

Hungary, the main entry point into Europe's borderless Schengen zone for migrants, has taken a hard line, vowing to seal its southern frontier with a new, high fence by Sept. 15.

Hungarian officials have portrayed the crisis as a defense of Europe's prosperity, identity and "Christian values" against an influx of mainly Muslim migrants.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Saturday Hungary would deploy police forces along its border with Serbia after Sept. 15 and the army too if parliament approves a government proposal.

"It's not 150,000 (migrants coming) that some (in the EU) want to divide according to quotas, it's not 500,000, a figure that I heard in Brussels, it's millions, then tens of millions, because the supply of immigrants is endless," he said.

For days, several thousand camped outside Budapest's main railway station, where trains to western Europe were canceled as the government insisted all entering Hungary be registered with asylum applications processed there as per EU rules.

But the logjam broke on Friday when, in separate rapid-fire developments, hundreds broke out of a teeming camp on Hungary's frontier with Serbia, escaped a stranded train, and took to the highway by foot chanting "Germany, Germany!"

The government appeared to throw in the towel, mobilizing a fleet of buses to take them to the Austrian border.

The scenes were emblematic of a crisis -- about 350,000 refugees and migrants have reached the border of the European Union this year -- that has left the 28-nation EU groping for solutions amid dysfunctional squabbling over burden-sharing.

At an EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg on Saturday, the usual diplomatic conviviality unraveled as they failed to agree on any practical steps out of the crisis. They are especially at odds over proposals for country-by-country quotas to take in asylum seekers.

"Given the challenges facing our German friends as well, all of Europe needs to wake up. (The time for) reverie is over," Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner said.

"Now the continent of Europe is challenged. In this great challenge the entire continent has to give a unified answer. Whoever still thinks that withdrawal from the EU or a barbed wire fence around Austria will solve the problem is wrong."

British finance minister George Osborne said Europe and Britain must offer asylum to those genuinely fleeing persecution but also need to boost aid, defeat people-smuggling gangs and tackle the conflict in Syria to ease the migrant crisis.

BOY'S BODY ON BEACH PRICKS EU'S CONSCIENCE

Pressure to take effective action rose sharply this week after pictures flashed around the world of the body of a 3-year-old Syrian Kurdish boy washed up on a Turkish resort beach, personalizing the collective tragedy of the refugees. Aylan Kurdi had drowned along with his mother and brother while trying to cross by boat on a tiny rubber dinghy to a Greek island.

Hungary has lashed out at Germany, which expects to receive 800,000 asylum seekers this year, for declaring it would accept Syrian requests regardless of where they enter the EU.

Budapest says this has swelled the influx, and like some others in ex-Communist east European states -- unused to taking in notable numbers of foreigners -- it is resisting calls by some western EU leaders for each of the bloc's 28 members to accept a quota of refugees. The discord continued on Saturday.

"What happened is the consequence of the failed migration policy of the European Union and the irresponsible statements made by European politicians," Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on arrival at the Luxembourg meeting.

The flow of migrants risking rickety boats to cross the Mediterranean, or baton-wielding police on Balkan borders, shows no sign of abating despite more trips by sea ending in disaster.

Over 2,000 have died at sea so far this year, including 30-40 on Friday who were reported drowned off Libya's coast.

The Greek coastguard said on Saturday that about 13,370 migrants and refugees had been ferried from Greece's eastern islands to Athens since Monday.

A record 50,000 hit Greek shores in July alone and were ferried from islands unable to cope to the mainland by a government already floundering in financial crisis and keen to dispatch them promptly north into Macedonia, whence they enter Serbia and then Hungary.

Hungary said on Saturday it had recorded some 165,000 entering so far this year.

Determined to stem the tide, Hungary is building a 3.5-metre (11.5-foot) high fence along its border with Serbia. On Friday, the Budapest parliament adopted measures the government says will effectively seal the frontier to migrants as of Sept. 15.

They include "transit zones" on the border, where asylum seekers would be held until their requests are processed and, if denied, they would be deported.

(Additional reporting by Sandor Peto and Balazs Koranyi in Budapest, Shadia Nasralla in Alpbach, Austria, Francois Murphy in Salzburg, Michael Shields in Zurich, Robin Emmott in Luxembourg and Thomas Seythal in Berlin; Writing by Matt Robinson; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

WATCH: Migrants stream into Austria:

Migrants Stream Into Austria
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