German Chancellor Angela Merkel faced down far-right hecklers on Wednesday, vowing zero tolerance for "vile" anti-migrant violence as rescuers found 55 corpses on stricken boats in the Mediterranean.

The biggest migration crisis to hit Europe since World War II spiralled further as chaotic scenes erupted at a Hungarian border town with police firing tear gas, and Budapest considering deploying troops to stem a record influx of asylum-seekers.

Alarmed by the worsening situation, UN chief Ban Ki-moon urged countries "in Europe and elsewhere to prove their compassion and do much more to bring an end to the crisis".

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