A truck full of decomposing migrants was found abandoned in a highway in Austria. Since the bodies are already decaying, authorities are not yet sure of the count of the bodies piled on top of each other. The discovery comes as leaders from the EU and the western Balkans are meeting at Vienna to discuss the European migrant crisis.
According to a report from The Local Austria, motorway patrol noticed an abandoned truck on an emergency lane off the A4 highway in Burgenland state. The location is close to the Hungarian border, The Local said in its report.
The authorities instantly noticed “decomposing body fluids” dripping from the abandoned truck. When they opened the truck, they were met by gruesome scene of decaying bodies on top of each other. The limbs of the bodies were twisted among each other. Authorities said it was really hard to count the bodies exactly, or identify whether there were kids among the bodies.
“We cannot say exactly how many there are. We could imagine that maybe 20 people have died, but it could also be 40 or 50 … We think that these are refugees,” Hans Peter Doskozil, the head of the Burgenland Police, was quoted as saying by The Local.
Austrian authorities are now working with the Hungarian police to track down the driver of the truck who is believed to be Romanian. Preliminary investigation found that the truck departed from Budapest on Wednesday morning. A spokesman for the office of Hungarian Prime Minister said the registration of the truck was made under the name of a Romanian citizen in the city of Kecskemét.
The decomposing migrants were found inside a truck owned by the Slovak company called Hyza which sells poultry meat. Speaking with NBC News, Hyza spokesman Nicholas Šranko said the truck was one of their old trucks sold in Slovak in 2013 and 2014.
“We are really sorry about the tragedy that happened in Austria — today is a really black day. Unfortunately we did not remove the branding before we sold the vehicle, but we will be sure to do this in the future,” Šranko told NBC News.
The grim discovery of the bodies happened as leaders from EU and the western Balkans meet in Vienna for the Balkans Summit. The meeting is aimed at discussing the migrant crisis in European nations.
According to a report from The Guardian, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was “shaken by the awful news.” “This reminds us that we in Europe need to tackle the problem quickly and find solutions in the spirit of solidarity,” Merkel said as quoted by The Guardian, adding that the horrifying incident “is a warning for us to tackle the issue of migration quickly. We have more refugees in the world than at any time since the second world war. The world’s eyes are upon us.”
Austria’s interior minister, Johanna Mikl-Leitner, on the other hand, denounced the human smugglers. “Today is a dark day. This tragedy is a concern for us all. Smugglers are criminals. They have no interest in the welfare of refugees. Only profit,” Mikl-Leitner said in a statement obtained by The Guardian. Werner Faymann, Austria’s chancellor, also blamed the human smugglers for the horrific incident, saying “today refugees lost the lives they had tried to save by escaping, but lost them at the hands of traffickers.”
Migrants are trying to cross into Europe to escape the war in Syria, Africa and Middle East. They take on the dangerous journey in container trucks or boats; most of the time, the journey ends in death.