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Merkel Urges Help As Refugees Pour Into Austria, Germany

Austrian police directs refugees waiting for busses at a reception camp at the Austrian-Hungarian border in Nickelsdorf, Austria. (file photo)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called on other European heads of state to accept joint responsibility for the continent’s refugee crisis, as thousands of more have poured into Austria aboard crowded buses and trains.

Austrian police said 4,700 people entered the country on September 20 through the Nickelsdorf border post from Hungary. A day earlier, more than 10,000 people entered.

Soldiers, police, and volunteers, meanwhile, were trying establish order on the Austrian border as about 7,000 people crowded the Nickelsdorf crossing.

The development comes after thousands of migrants, many lacking food and water, were trapped in Southeast Europe, in some cases for days, after countries began putting up barriers that blocked their passage to Western and Central Europe.

European leaders, who are sharply divided over what to do with the migrant influx, are hoping to find a credible response to the crisis at an emergency summit in the coming week.

Merkel on September 20 warned that Germany could not shelter those who were moving for economic reasons rather than to flee war or persecution.

"Germany is willing to help. But it is not just a German challenge, but one for all of Europe," Merkel told a gathering of trade unionists. "Europe must act together and take on responsibility. Germany can't shoulder this task alone."

"We are a big country. We are a strong country. But to make out as if we alone can solve all the social problems of the world would not be realistic," she said.

The majority of the refugees and migrants are fleeing wars in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, with the European Union receiving almost 250,000 asylum requests in April, May, and June.

Meanwhile, nearly 30 refugees are missing off the Greek island of Lesbos, the latest boat sinking in Greece that has led to hundreds of deaths in recent months.

The Greek coast guard said on September 20 that it had rescued 20 people by helicopter, but survivors said another 26 people had been about the boat.

More than 2,600 people have died among the nearly half million who have braved perilous trips across the Mediterranean to reach Europe so far this year.

Many migrants have turned to Turkey's land borders with Greece and Bulgaria to avoid the sea voyage.

Based on reporting by AFP and AP