Thousands of jubilant migrants arrive in Austria

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In light of the acute situation, Austrian and German officials agreed to allow thousands of migrants into their countries, Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann said.

Nickelsdorf, Austria (CNN) — Some Austrians cheered as busloads of migrants pulled up on their border with Hungary early Saturday (September 5) — and weary passengers clutching children streamed toward them.

The passengers carried their meager belongings in backpacks as they exited the vehicles in the rain.

They walked on foot over the border to Nickelsdorf, in Austria's Burgenland state, where applause broke out among groups welcoming the convoys of buses with food, Austrian public TV ORF reported.

The Austrian Red Cross also provided medical supplies and warm blankets.

About 4,000 migrants have crossed into Austria in the first few hours of Saturday, and an additional 6,000 or so who are still in Hungary are expected to come over, said Deputy Chief of Burgenland State Police Werner Fasching.

There are only enough beds for 600 people in and around the border town of Nickelsdorf, and the bulk of the refugees are being sent to the Austrian capital, Vienna, via trains and buses, he said.

"We are trying to move as many as possible in the direction of Vienna," Fasching said. There the migrants will receive food, drink and, if needed, medical care. Some who wish to continue on to Germany will be permitted to do so.

Their arrival in Austria caps an emotional week for the migrants, many of whom had walked for hours before they got into dozens of buses provided by the Hungarian authorities.

In light of the acute situation, Austrian and German officials agreed to allow thousands of migrants into their countries, Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann said.

Trains stopped

Chaotic scenes erupted Thursday as trains packed with Syrian refugees were halted at a station outside the Hungarian capital of Budapest.

Police gathered at the side of the track as the trains abruptly stopped at Bicske. But families hoping to travel to Austria or ultimately Germany refused to get off despite suffocating heat and limited food.

Hungarian authorities wanted to send them to a nearby holding camp, but — fearing that once there they would be badly treated and unable to continue their journey north — the migrants refused.

After a standoff lasting more than a day, hundreds set off on foot Friday along the train tracks toward Austria.

Hungary sent buses to pick them up as throngs walked for hours in hopes of reaching the Austrian border about 100 miles away.

About 300 of those at Bicske station agreed to go to the nearby refugee camp, according to a Hungarian government statement.

More than 1,000 other refugees set off on foot from Budapest's main Keleti station — where they had been waiting for days to travel onward to Western Europe — and walked for hours beside a highway. They also were picked up by buses.

Over the past week, Keleti station had become a focal point of the crisis engulfing parts of Europe as an unprecedented wave of people — mostly refugees fleeing conflict in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan — seek to reach Northern and Western Europe.

By Friday night, it was empty.

In a sign of a rushed departure, many belongings were left scattered in the station — single shoes, bedding, children's toys. A couple of young local men kicked and picked their way through what was left behind.

Even as the refugees were still boarding buses and waiting to depart, cleaners were clearing the train station.

The refugees on the buses were exhausted but relieved to be on their way, though some expressed doubt that they would actually be taken as far as Austria.

"Are they taking us to border?" one man asked suspiciously. Once in Austria they plan to head to various parts of Europe — Germany, Italy, Sweden were among the destinations they named.

In the past few days, Austria's Interior Ministry has outlined the measures it has been taking to deal with the expected stream of people.

It also warned on its website that it is illegal for private individuals to cross into Hungary to pick up migrants and ferry them back to Austria.

The ministry has, however, asked for Austrian citizens and companies to lend the government land on which to put temporary accommodation for refugees.

Hungary overwhelmed

Despite finding itself on the front lines of the migrant crisis, Hungary is more a transit point than a destination on a long journey to wealthier nations such as Austria and Germany, where the refugees hope to claim asylum.

Speaking to reporters before a meeting of EU foreign ministers Saturday in Luxembourg, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto defended his country's response.

"What has been happening in Hungary are two things — first, the failed migration policy of the EU, and the second one is series of some irresponsible statements made by European politicians," he said.

Szijjarto also accused the migrants of exacerbating the situation by failing to cooperate.

"Actually, people, families and the migrants became more and more aggressive, refusing cooperation with Hungarian authorities, not willing to be registered, not willing to be fingerprinted, not willing to be photographed. They have refused to go to the refugee stations where basic supplies would have been ensured for them."

In setting off on foot along the country's main railway line and highway, they then triggered an emergency situation, he said.

"That is why we have decided to send buses and deliver them to the Austrian border where they wanted to go."

Under European law, those seeking asylum are approved in the country where they first registered, and most migrants prefer to file paperwork in Western European nations, which have better programs set up to help refugees.

Still, Hungary has been inundated with 140,000 asylum applications since January, and there have been about 2,000 new arrivals daily, U.N. refugee agency spokesman Babar Baloch said.

Hungarian authorities have said under EU legislation, they can't allow people to travel internationally without the proper documentation — a valid passport, a ticket and any necessary visas.

'The problem is a German problem'

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban met with other EU members Thursday to figure out how to cope with the emergency.

Speaking to reporters in Brussels, Belgium, alongside European Parliament President Martin Schulz, Orban said the situation was not of his country's making.

"The problem is not a European problem; the problem is a German problem," he said.

Germany's government said last month it expected up to 800,000 asylum seekers to come this year — four times more than in 2014. But Orban said German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that they must be registered before leaving Hungary.

"All of them would like to go to Germany; our job is only to register them," Orban said.

Pointing fingers

Without strict border controls, EU migrant quotas are "an invitation" for migrants to come, he said. "Turkey is a safe country, why don't you stay there?" he said, adding that migrants who reach Serbia should also stay put.

Hungary's right-wing government has faced criticism for erecting a barbed-wire fence along its more than 100-mile long border with Serbia in a bid to prevent migrants crossing illegally.

But Orban said his country was just trying to enforce EU rules.

"Don't criticize Hungary for what is being done. Let Hungary do the job as it is written in the European regulations," he said.

While European leaders struggle to come up with a coherent plan, the men, women and children caught up in the crisis continue to suffer.

CNN's Arwa Damon reported from Nickelsdorf, while Faith Karimi wrote from Atlanta and Laura Smith-Spark from London. CNN's Ben Brumfield, Kellie Morgan, Gul Tuysuz and Frederik Pleitgen contributed to this report.

This story was first published on CNN.com, "After chaotic week, thousands of jubilant migrants arrive in Austria from Hungary"