Police in Austria have found a smuggler's truck in the south of Vienna with dead bodies of migrants. Police spoke of at least 20 casualties, but the numbers could go up.
Austrian police found dead bodies of several migrants in a truck south of Vienna on Thursday on the A4 highway. The lorry was found standing on the emergency lane.
Police believe the refugees suffocated, with at least 20 people dying.
"We can assume that possibly 20 people have died, it could also be 40 or 50," a police spokesman in Vienna told journalists. The inmates of the truck had died quite some time back, he confirmed.
Martin Huber, the district commissioner of Neusiedl, where the truck was found, confirmed that a towing truck had been stopped at the A4 highway. He also confirmed the death of a number of people inside.
Employees of the infrastructure company Asfinag saw the truck parked at the highway for a very long time and contacted the police, the APA said.
Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner expressed regret at the findings, saying, "This day is a dark day for us."
"The tragedy affects us all. Traffickers are criminals," she added, calling for a stop to refugee smuggling within Europe.
Hungary chides EU border control
Police confirmed that the vehicle, found near the town of Parndof, had Hungarian license plates. Hungarian police are working with Austrian police to track down the driver, according to Prime Minister Viktor Orban's chief of staff, Janos Lazar
Lazar also took the opportunity to criticize the European Union for being unable to control the flow of migrants.
"The developments of the past few days ... showed that the EU is unable to defend its borders," Lazar told a press conference.
Merkel decries 'horrible' discovery
Thousands of people fleeing the conflict in the Middle East and poverty in Africa are risking their lives to reach Europe, where they believe they will lead a better life. A major summit in Vienna, designed to focus on EU-Balkan relations, is sure to be dominated by the topic. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier are both in attendance.
At the conference, Merkel said she was "shaken" by the news: "We were all shaken by the horrible news that up to 50 people died... although these were people coming to seek safety. This is a warning to work to resolve this problem and show solidarity."Najib Razak
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mg,es/msh (dpa, Reuters)