Hundreds of angry refugees and migrants demonstrated outside Budapest's Eastern Railway Terminus, demanding that they be allowed to travel on to Austria and Germany. Hungarian authorities closed the train station altogether, then reopened it but barred entry to the refugees and migrants.

migrants Hungary Austria Germany
Men protest at the Eastern (Keleti) railway station of Budapest after police ordered that the station be evacuated due to the number of people trying to board trains to Austria and GermanyAttila Kisbenedek/AFP
migrants Hungary Austria Germany
People fight during the evacuation of the Eastern (Keleti) railway station of BudapestAttila Kisbenedek/AFP

100 police operatives wearing helmets and wielding batons guarded the station. Around 1,000 people waved tickets, clapping, booing and hissing, and shouting "Germany! Germany!" outside the station.

Faced with the sheer number of people arriving in Budapest, Hungarian authorities had let them board westbound trains on Monday (31 August) before unexpectedly shutting the train station on Tuesday morning (1 September). Government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs said Hungary was trying to enforce EU law, which requires anyone who wishes to travel within Europe to hold a valid passport and a Schengen visa.

migrants Hungary Austria Germany
Hundreds of migrants and refugees protest after authorities closed Budapest's main Eastern Railway station, with no trains departing or arriving until further noticeLaszlo Balogh/Reuters
migrants Hungary Austria Germany
A Syrian refugee shows his valid train ticket as the biggest Hungarian railway station was closed when police evacuated people trying to get on trains bound for GermanyAttila Kisbenedek/AFP
migrants Hungary Austria Germany
A child cries in frustration as his parents try to board a train in BudapestBernadett Szabo/Reuters
migrants Hungary Austria Germany
Migrants jostle for position to board a train in Budapest as new rules are implemented, mandating each passenger to have allocated seatsBernadett Szabo/Reuters

Hungary is on a major overland transit route from the Middle East and Africa for refugees fleeing violence and economic migrants escaping poverty, with more than 140,000 people crossing its southern border with Serbia this year alone.

Hungarian and Austrian authorities initially allowed several trainloads of undocumented migrants to reach Germany on Monday (31 August).

migrants Hungary Austria Germany
Refugees show their ticket as they wait for a train to Austria at a station in Budapest, HungaryLaszlo Balogh/Reuters
migrants Hungary Austria Germany
A family sits in a train to Austria at a station in Budapest, HungaryLaszlo Balogh/Reuters
migrants Hungary Austria Germany
A migrant breathes a sigh of relief after getting on a train at the railway station in BudapestBernadett Szabo/Reuters
migrants Hungary Austria Germany
A woman covers her sleeping child on the train from Budapest to ViennaVladimir Simicek/AFP
migrants Hungary Austria Germany
Hungarian police speak to people queueing to buy train tickets a the railway station in BudapestBernadett Szabo/Reuters
migrants Hungary Austria Germany
Hungarian police officers check travellers' papers as a train heading for Austria, with migrants and refugees on board, is stopped at a border station in HegyeshalomHeinz-Peter Bader/Reuters
migrants Hungary Austria Germany
Children demonstrate with placards at Western (Nyugati) railway station in BudapestAttila Kisbenedek/AFP

The crisis has prompted the government in Budapest to reinforce its border with a razor wire fence and deploy thousands of extra police to try to funnel the flow of migrants to legal channels rather than allowing them through unchecked.

Hungary's ruling centre-right Fidesz party, led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban, has struck a combative tone in the migrant crisis. Antal Rogan of the Fidesz party said "the very existence of Christian Europe" was under threat. "Would we like our grandchildren to grow up in a United European Caliphate?" Rogan told the pro-government daily newspaper Magyar Idok.

migrants Hungary Austria Germany
Hungarian soldiers put rolls of razor wire on a fence near the town of Asotthalom, on the border between Serbia and HungaryBernadett Szabo/Reuters

In Austria, thousands of supporters of the migrants chanted: "Refugees are welcome here" outside Vienna's main station. "These people need help, they have come from a horrendous situation, we should not think twice about helping them," said Ottwin Schober, a retiree who had been moved by the discovery of a truckload of 71 dead migrants in Austria last week.

Austrian authorities have stopped hundreds of refugees and arrested five traffickers along the highway from Hungary where the abandoned truck was found near the Hungarian border. Interior Ministry official Konrad Kogler denied that the clampdown violates the Schengen accord on free movement.

migrants Hungary Austria Germany
Protesters call for a change in Europe's migrant policy in Vienna, Austria. The sign reads, "Refugees are welcome".Leonhard Foeger/Reuters
migrants Hungary Austria Germany
Trucks queue along a highway near the Austrian border in Hegyeshalom, HungaryLaszlo Balogh/Reuters
migrants Hungary Austria Germany
Austrian police officers speak to a man with no papers at a checkpoint in the village of NickelsdorfHeinz-Peter Bader/Reuters

The influx is a crisis for the European Union, which has eliminated border controls between the 26 Schengen area states but requires asylum seekers to apply in the first EU country they reach. This rule is often ignored as people race towards the EU's more prosperous heart.

Khalil, 33, an English teacher from Kobani in Syria, told Reuters he had bought train tickets to Hamburg, where he felt sure of a better welcome after traipsing across the Balkans and Hungary. "Syrians call (Chancellor Angela) Merkel 'Mama Merkel'," he said, referring to the German leader's relatively compassionate response to the migrant crisis.

migrants Hungary Austria Germany
Passengers get off a train from Hungary at the railway station in Vienna, AustriaLeonhard Foeger/Reuters
migrants Hungary Austria Germany
German police officers talk to men at the main train station in Munich, southern GermanyChristof Stache/AFP
migrants Hungary Austria Germany
A family sits in a train in Rosenheim, Germany after it arrived from BudapestSean Gallup/Getty Images
migrants Hungary Austria Germany
A family from Afghanistan arrive at the train station in Munich after travelling from BudapestSven Hoppe/AFP
migrants Hungary Austria Germany
Children sit on the steps of the main train station in Munich, after arriving from HungaryChristof Stache/AFP
migrants Hungary Austria Germany
A woman holds a young boy at the main train station in Munich, after they arrived from HungaryChristof Stache/AFP

, whose country expects some 800,000 migrants this year, said the crisis could destroy the Schengen open borders agreement if other EU countries did not take a greater share. Britain, which is outside the Schengen zone, says the border-free system is part of the problem. A bloc of central European countries plan to oppose any binding quotas.

At Munich station in southern Germany, trains arrived from Hungary carrying several hundred people, mostly Syrian refugees. Men, women and children smiled with relief on reaching German soil. Police shepherded them from the platform to a station outbuilding to be registered. They were then taken to waiting buses outside, to be transferred to a reception centre in a former barracks in the north of the city.

migrants Hungary Austria Germany
People who had arrived by train sleep while waiting to register at a state-run facility in Rosenheim, GermanySean Gallup/Getty Images
migrants Hungary Austria Germany
A young migrant couple from Eritrea and their child board a bus and then a train after they completed the registration process at a centre for migrants in Rosenheim, GermanySean Gallup/Getty Images

Eighteen-year-old Mohammad al-Azaawi said he had abandoned his engineering degree and fled Syria after being wounded by a car bomb. He showed reporters scars on his stomach. His brother Ahmed told Reuters they had paid up to 3,000 euros (£2,200, $3,365) to make their way via Turkey, Greece, Madedonia, Serbia, Hungary and Austria. The family had had to sell their house to raise the money. "We escaped death in Syria. We want to stay here for a better future," he pleaded.