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Chaos And Confusion As Refugee Trains Leave Budapest

Keleti international station opened its doors to refugees and asylum-seekers following a tense two-day standoff. However, trains did not head to their preferred destination of western Europe, and stopped at the small Hungarian town of Bicske.

Last updated on September 3, 2015, at 10:26 a.m. ET

Posted on September 3, 2015, at 8:17 a.m. ET

The international rail station in the Hungarian capital, Budapest, opened its doors to the thousands of refugees camped outside Thursday, following a tense two-day standoff that saw Hungarian authorities preventing them from entering the station.

Frank Augstein / AP

Hundreds of people, many fleeing conflict in Syria and Afghanistan, rushed to cram onto the trains in Keleti station, with many believing they were heading to Austria and Germany.

Bernadett Szabo / Reuters

However, confusion and chaos reigned as Hungarian authorities cancelled all departures to western Europe, Reuters reported.

Bernadett Szabo / Reuters

Irony of ironies: 1st train in #Budapest station painted with barbed wire to celebrate 25 years after #berlinwall & 'Europe without borders'

Irony alert: #Keleti refugee train has sign for 1989 Pan European Picnic, moment when #Hungary let ppl leave 4 west.

Laszlo Balogh / Reuters

Reporters at the station spoke of the lack of information being provided by authorities as to the destination of the trains.

#Refugees now in #Budapest's Keleti station say police & conductors refuse to tell them where the trains are going

"People were boarding any train that was in sight, not knowing where they were going," Phil Todoroff, a Canadian tourist visiting Budapest, told the BBC.

Most people had been hoping to continue their journey to countries such as Germany that have pledged to take larger numbers of asylum-seekers and refugees than many of their European counterparts.

Petr David Josek / AP

As trains to Vienna and Germany were cancelled, the trains were initially rerouted to the town of Sopron, close to the Austrian border, according to Reuters.

Petr David Josek / AP

Only eastbound trains from #Keleti in #budapest. Reports that refugees who boarded train 4 Austria sent to camp

This video shows dozens of people desperately trying to board a train carriage at Keleti station:

View this video on YouTube


Tensions began to rise when trains were stopped 30 kilometers (19 miles) away in the town of Bicske, with riot police ordering them off their carriages, ITV News reported.

Petr David Josek / AP

The arrival in Bicske prompted fears among passengers that they were going to be moved to a refugee camp within Hungary, the BBC reported.

Desks and tents had been set up outside the station, according to CNN.

Dozens of migrants began chanting "no camp, no camp" at police at the station, the BBC said.

ITV News' Europe editor, James Mates, was aboard one of the trains and tweeted the arrival in the town.

Train has stopped at small town 30 miles down the line. Reception party of dozens of police. This may be end of line

All Europeans taken off train. Refugees realising they're not going to Austria. Riot police stop anyone getting off.

Refugees now being cleared from train one carriage at a time. Being corralled through an underpass. V unhappy.

One family with a young baby threw themselves on the tracks in protest, demanding not to be taken to camps.

Man and wife with tiny baby throw themselves onto track demanding not to be taken to camps. Getting c distressing

Laszlo Balogh / Reuters

Others simply refused to leave their trains, prompting a lengthy stalemate between the migrants and refugees and Hungarian police.

At Bicske, stopped and unable to leave. Refugees in #Hungary appear to meet another dead end. #trainofdespair

Dozens of children still on this train. No movement for more than an hour now. Authorities appear at a loss

Message for authorities from a refugee now trapped at Bicske station. #trainofdespair

Journalists at Bicske said that police had started to usher media away from the station.

International media being shepherded away from the train. Whatever happens next, Hungarians don't want world to see

Hungarian police force @Channel4News cameraman Soren Munk off station where refugees held in train.

Refugees shouting 'don't leave us' as media pushed away from train

Later, a number of the refugees were taken from the train to a bus, ITV News reported.

First 4 refugees taken from the train, it's assumed to a nearby camp. Going to be a slow process at this rate

Speaking at a tense news conference alongside European Parliament President Martin Schulz in Brussels, Hungary's nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban said the issue of asylum-seekers and refugees in Europe was "a German problem."

Virginia Mayo / AP

"Nobody would like to stay in Hungary, neither in Slovakia nor Poland nor Estonia," Orban said. "All of them would like to go to Germany. Our job is only to register them."

He added: "Hungarians are full of fear. People of Europe are full of fear because they see that the European leaders, among them the prime ministers, are not able to control the situation."

Non-EU asylum-seekers and refugees entering the union's territory are required to register with the country they first land in.

View this video on YouTube

On Thursday Orban also claimed he was defending Europe's Christian identity from an influx of Muslims, according to The Guardian:

"Those arriving have been raised in another religion, and represent a radically different culture. Most of them are not Christians, but Muslims," he said. "This is an important question, because Europe and European identity is rooted in Christianity. Is it not worrying in itself that European Christianity is now barely able to keep Europe Christian? There is no alternative, and we have no option but to defend our borders."

Elsewhere in Hungary Thursday, members of the far-right Jobbik party and other extreme right groups gathered at the border to protest the arrival of refugees:

Members of the far-right Jobbik party and militia groups protest on Hungary's border with Serbia as refugees arrive

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