2 migrants killed in car crash in Albania, 7 injured

TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Two migrants were killed in a car crash and seven others were injured when their vehicle plummeted off a cliff in southern Albania, police said Sunday.

A four-wheel drive vehicle was illegally transporting the nine migrants, identified as Syrians by local media, on Saturday, a police statement said. The driver lost control and the vehicle careened off the cliff in Gramsh, 80 kilometers (50 miles) southeast of the capital, Tirana.

The eight survivors, including the driver, were taken to a hospital.

The 28-year-old driver, who was arrested and charged with illegal migrant trafficking and traffic violations, faces 15 years to life in prison if convicted.

It wasn’t immediately clear where the migrants were being taken.

Albania has toughened its laws on illegal migrant smuggling, and usually deports the migrants to the country where they illegally crossed the border — mainly Greece.

Since May, the European Union border agency Frontex has helped Albania’s police to patrol its land and sea borders for migrants and criminal activity.

Though Albania hasn’t been a major transit route for migrants through Europe, the numbers increased last year to more than 11,000 from about 7,000 in the previous year.