Austria discovers dozens of dead migrants
Austrian police have discovered the dead bodies of up to 50 migrants piled up in a truck parked on a highway leading from the border with Hungary.
Police said Thursday that between 20 and 50 bodies were found in the truck which was apparently abandoned a day earlier on a parking strip along the highway in the eastern Burgenland State.
Hans Peter Doskozil, the chief of Burgenland police, told a press conference that the bodies were partially decomposed, noting that police forces discovered the bodies after they noticed the back door of the truck was left open.
“We cannot confirm yet how they died,” Doskozil added.
Austria’s Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner, who also attended the press conference, said, “This tragedy affects us all deeply.”
“Human traffickers are criminals. Anyone still thinking that they’re kind helpers cannot be helped,” she added.
The news came hours before senior European leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, were to meet in Vienna to discuss how to deal with a record number of migrants trying to reach the continent by sea and land.
Austria’s Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz said before the meeting between Merkel and Balkan leaders that his country would introduce some tough anti-migration measures, including “much tighter border controls,” in case the European Union fails to adopt a united policy to tackle the issue.
“Austria has more migrants than Italy and Greece combined… so we shouldn’t pretend that only Italy and Greece are affected,” he said in an interview with Austria’s national broadcaster ORF.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) announced on Tuesday that almost 300,000 people have crossed the Mediterranean this year, with most of them fleeing conflicts in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
Semi-official estimates say more than 2,300 migrants have died crossing the Mediterranean this year, up nearly by 300 from a year ago.