Dozens of refugees found dead in truck in Austria

Bodies of 50 migrants discovered in back of truck in Austria as growing migrant crisis discussed in detail by EU in Vienna conference

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

A police officer stands in front of a truck parked on the shoulder of the A4 highway near Parndorf south of Vienna, Austria

As many as 50 refugees were found dead on Thursday in the back of a truck in Austria, the country’s largest newspaper, Kronen Zeitung, reported.

The truck was discovered near a highway close to Parndorf town in Burgenland state, about 50 km southeast of Austria's capital Vienna, according to the newspaper.

Staff at a nearby service station in Parndorf saw the truck and decided to call the police.

Referring to the refugees, Kronen Zeitung reported that the refugees in the truck probably died of suffocation after becoming trapped in it. The newspaper also added that a massive manhunt has been launched by the Austrian authorities to find the driver of the truck.

Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner, at a press conference in Eisenstadt, railed against "the despicable methods used by Mafia traffickers in all their ugliness in Austria."

She vowed to find the criminals who were responsible for the brutal incident, adding that there would be zero tolerance shown towards any that were caught.

Mikl-Leitner also called for unity in the 28-nation European Union in fighting against human trafficking.  

The horrific discovery coincided with the start of a conference in Vienna which was attended by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and heads of Balkan states on how to tackle the growing refugee crisis in the continent.

Following the incident, in an initial statement German Chancellor Angela Merkel said "We were all shaken by the horrible news."

TRTWorld and agencies