Chaos has erupted in a Slovenian border town, as thousands of people pushed through metal barriers and a police cordon, to force their way into Austria, part of an ongoing wave of refugees heading to Europe.

Several people, many holding children in their arms, were seen collapsing amid the melee on Friday afternoon near the Slovenian refugee camp in Sentilj on the border with Austria.

Austrian police said around 7,000 people gathered at the border area after Slovenia brought large groups of refugees there by train.


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Nearly 105,000 refugees have entered Slovenia in the last two weeks. Many of them are fleeing wars and poverty in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

There have been fears that Austria would close its border with Slovenia, following reports that it is planning to build a fence to "control" the refugee movement.

Drowing in Greece

Further south in Greece, at least 17 children were among those reported to have drowned earlier on Friday when three boats coming from Turkey sank, Greek port authorities told Al Jazeera.

One of the vessels went down near the island of Rhodes, the other near the island of Kalymous.

Rescue officials and volunteers in Greece and Turkey managed to rescue 157 other people. 

Alexis Tsipras, the Greek prime minister, voiced sorrow at the new deaths, and decried Europe's "inability to defend its values" by providing a safe alternative to the dangerous sea journeys in frail boats provided by smuggling gangs.

"The waves of the Aegean are not just washing up dead refugees, dead children, but [also] the very civilization of Europe," he told parliament earlier on Friday. 

'Blame game'

Tsipras placed blame for the tragedy on Western countries, whose military interventions in the Middle East "were not to introduce democracy ... but to serve financial interests".

"And now, those who sowed winds are reaping whirlwinds, but these mainly afflict reception countries," he said.

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"I feel ashamed of Europe's inability to effectively address this human drama, and of the level of debate ... where everyone tries to shift the blame onto someone else," Tsipras said.

The number of people reaching Greek waters has surged in the last week, with average daily arrivals reaching 7,000-8,000 people.

Greece authorities are struggling to cope as temporary camps are filled up, with long waiting times for refugees waiting to register and continue their journeys to other European countries.

Greece is the main point of entry for people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and Africa, after an alternative sea route from Libya to Italy became too dangerous.

Well over 500,000 - mainly Syrians and Afghans - have arrived so far this year from the nearby Turkish coast.

Lesbos has borne the brunt of the crisis, with more than 300,000 people reaching the island this year on small boats from Turkey, police say.

More than a third of that number has come in October alone, rushing to avoid the onset of harsh winter weather, and as conditions in camps in countries neighbouring Syria deteriorate.

Elsewhere in Spain, authorities said nearly 40 people who are dead or missing fell into the sea when the bottom of their Zodiac-type inflatable boat collapsed.

Photographs on the service's Web site showed the survivors straddling the sides of the boat that remained afloat. The group had been trying to reach Spain from Morocco.

The 15 survivors were found in an area of the Mediterranean Sea northeast of the Moroccan coastal city of Alhucemas and taken to the southern Spanish port of Malaga.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies