Forensic police officers inspect a parked truck in which up to 50 migrants were found dead, on a motorway near Parndorf, Austria August 27, 2015. (Reuters)
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Geneva – The Austrian authorities found bodies of more than 50 illegal refugees inside a truck parked near the Hungarian border on Thursday.
Local sources reported that the refugees died due to suffocation inside the closed truck that has been deserted by the driver for hours before Austrian police found it.
Austria’s Interior Ministry said in a statement that the truck was found parked along a motorway in the vicinity of Parndorf in Burgenland province, near the Hungarian border.
Meanwhile, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the discovery had shaken European leaders, who were discussing the migrant crisis at a Balkans summit on Thursday.
“We are of course all shaken by the appalling news. This reminds us that we must tackle quickly the issue of immigration and in a European spirit – that means in a spirit of solidarity – and to find solutions,” Merkel told reporters.
Investigations were underway in Austria and Hungary after the bodies were discovered. According to Hungarian officials, the truck had Hungarian number plates.
Commenting on the incident, Melissa Fleming, spokeswoman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, said: “Every week we learn of more deaths and drownings on the Mediterranean route because the boats people are packed on are unseaworthy or overcrowded. Now we are hearing of cases of mass deaths along the land journey.
“This terrible tragedy shows the unscrupulous business of smugglers who have no regard for human life is extending across the continent.”
Reporting by: Lorin Silo