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Syrians, Iraqis, Afghans among truck dead

September 4, 2015

Austrian police say 71 people found dead in a truck on an Austrian highway included Syrian, Iraqi and Afghan nationals, but none of them has been identified yet. The victims most likely suffocated to death.

Österreich Tote Flüchtlinge in LKW entdeckt Parndorf Neusiedl am See
Forensic police officers inspect the truck in which 71 were found dead, near Parndorf, AustriaImage: Reuters/H-P Bader

After releasing autopsy results Friday, Austrian police said that the 71 refugees and migrants found dead in truck on a highway in Austria last week probably suffocated, but it will take weeks to be able to say so for sure. Forensic work will continue in order to definitively establish the cause of death.

They added that among the dead were Syrian, Iraqi and Afghan nationals but not a single one of them has been identified yet.

Hans Peter Doskozil, police chief in Burgenland where the truck was found, said that the migrants had likely died on Hungarian territory shortly after entering the truck, whose refrigeration system was not working. He also said that in a similar case earlier, 81 migrants managed to create a hole in a truck using a crowbar to gain access to fresh air, and thus were saved.

"We found a total of 17 travel documents. Based on these we have been able to determine that this was a mixed group of people. Syrian nationals, Iraqis and also Afghans are likely to have been on board," Doskozil said.

He said 40 phones had also been found and there had been contact with people who claimed to be relatives of the victims.

dr/se (AP, Reuters)