A grisly discovery was made in Austria as 71 people thought to be migrants were found dead in an abandoned truck near the Hungarian border. Police in white hazmat suits searched the vehicle only to find the sad discovery on the major highway that leads to Vienna.
Authorities said the bodies had been there for at least two days, and the victims had probably suffocated, according to BBC News. Police in Austria say the victims include 59 men, eight women, and four children, and they appeared to be migrants from Syria. One victim was a girl between 1 and 2-years-old. Police at the scene originally thought the death toll was between 20 and 50 people, reports Fox News, but a forensic team in Austria confirmed there were 71 victims.
After the discovery, authorities in Austria stated the vehicle was towed to a customs building so forensic teams could examine the bodies. BBC News reports that the forensic team in Austria thought the migrants were dead when they passed the border from Hungary into Austria, and a travel document found in the vehicle suggested the migrants were Syrian.
“Our preliminary assumption is of course that they were refugees, possibly a group of Syrian refugees,” Hans Peter Doskozil, Burgenland province police chief, said, according to BBC News.
Police in Austria confirmed it isn’t usual to find migrants trying the enter the European Union in a refrigerated truck, and there “was no ventilation possible through the sides of the lorry,” reports BBC News.
Hungarian police say they have arrested four people, three Bulgarians and one Afghan, linked to the dead migrants in Austria, reports Fox News. The case has shocked Austria and the rest of Europe, which has seen a surge in the number of migrants trying to enter the European Union. Fox News reports that thousands of migrants cross the borders in Greece daily, and human trafficking is at an all-time high since World War II.
Wars and persecution in the Middle East have prompted migrants seeking asylum to enter countries like Austria in any way possible. Fox News reports that refugee camps are overrun, and migrants look for any way possible to enter the European Union and won’t wait to delay their entry if an opportunity presents itself. While some migrants choose to enter the E.U. using a human trafficker with a truck, such as the vehicle found in Austria, others will try to enter on foot.
Fox News also reports that similar to human trafficking stories in the United States, people trying to enter Austria and other European countries have heard stories of smugglers who lie to migrants, dropping them far away from their destination or abandoning them while still locked in trucks.
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