At least 20 migrants were found dead in a truck on Thursday in eastern Austria, apparently from suffocation. Police said the number could be as high as 50.
The food-delivery truck was found along Austria’s A4 autobahn near the town of Parndorf, which is not far from the border with Hungary and Slovakia.
“We can assume that it could be 20 people who died. It could also be 40, it could be 50 people,” an unnamed police official was quoted by Reuters as saying.
“The level of information is currently very poor. One can imagine how the condition of these people is. Therefore we cannot yet say how many dead there are also,” National Police Director Hanspeter Doskozil was quoted by RT.com as saying.
Austria’s Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner called it a “dark day.” She said the tragedy highlighted the need for common European Union policies to protect migrants being smuggled across Europe.
The Guardian writes: “Road employees spotted the lorry and alerted the police. Detectives then made the horrific discovery. A manhunt for the driver is now underway.”
On Tuesday, Austrian police arrested three drivers suspected of transporting migrants from Syria into the EU. One of the drivers had 34 people packed in the back of a truck, the Guardian reports.
Also, as The New York Times notes:
“The grisly discovery coincided with the start of a conference in Vienna on how to make the Balkans more secure and prosperous, partly as a means to stop the flight of thousands seeking better economic conditions in Austria, Germany and other, more wealthy parts of the European Union. The conference is being attended by Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, and Balkan heads of government.
“The deep divides and dysfunction of the European Union in handling a crisis that is straining resources and good will were immediately evident at a news conference at the start of the one-day conference. With the foreign ministers of Germany and Austria and a senior European Union official looking on, the foreign ministers of Serbia and Macedonia — two Balkan states that have had tens of thousands of migrants cross their borders in recent weeks — criticized the bloc’s response as wholly inadequate.”