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Germany reinstates border control, scraps concessions for Syrians

Germany had waived EU rules for Syrian refugees, but admits it is stretched to limit coping with recent influx
Refugees arrive at a makeshift camp for asylum seekers near the border line between Serbia and Hungary near Roszke, Hungary on Saturday (AA)

Germany said it was reinstating border controls on Sunday as Europe's top economy admitted it was stretched to the limit trying to cope with a record influx of refugees, many of them from Syria.

The announcement came as tragedy struck again off the coast of Greece, with 34 more migrants - among them babies and children - drowning when their overcrowded wooden boat capsized in high winds.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said border controls would be reintroduced with immediate effect, and the Czech republic announced similar measures on the border with Austria.

"The aim of this measure is to stop the current influx to Germany and to return to an orderly process," de Maiziere said, as the city of Munich recorded an influx of 63,000 asylum seekers in two weeks.

Asylum-seekers must understand "they cannot chose the states where they are seeking protection," he told reporters. 

Under EU rules, the first country of entry is required to deal with an asylum-seeker's request for protection, but Germany had waived the rule for Syrian refugees.

Local authorities in Germany, which has earned praise for its welcoming stance towards refugees, have buckled under the sudden surge of migrants at the end of an exhausting and often perilous journey.

European Union home affairs ministers will hold an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss deeply divisive European Commission plans to introduce compulsory quotas for refugees.

"The German decision of today underlines the urgency to agree on the measures proposed by the European Commission in order to manage the refugee crisis," the EU said. 

Europe's biggest economy has become the destination of choice for many, particularly for Syrians after Chancellor Angela Merkel decided to relax asylum rules for citizens of the war-torn country.

"Given the numbers from yesterday, it is very clear that we have reached the upper limit of our capacity," said a Munich police spokesman.

In Greece, on the frontline of the massive surge of people trying to reach Europe, the coastguard said 34 people -- including four babies and 11 young children -- perished when when their boat capsized off the Aegean island of Farmakonisi.

The coastguard was also still searching for four children missing after another boat capsized on Saturday off Samos, a Greek island just off the Turkish coast.

The latest tragedies follow the death of a Syrian toddler whose lifeless body was photographed washed up on a Turkish beach last week, becoming a heartwrenching symbol of the plight of refugees fleeing war.

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