© 2024 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

At Least 20 Dead Migrants Found Crammed In Truck In Austria

The bodies of dozens of dead migrants were discovered in an abandoned truck along autobahn A4 between Parndorf and Neusiedl, Austria, on Thursday.
Hans Punz
The bodies of dozens of dead migrants were discovered in an abandoned truck along autobahn A4 between Parndorf and Neusiedl, Austria, on Thursday.

At least 20 migrants were found dead in a truck on Thursday in eastern Austria, apparently from suffocation. Police said the number could be as high as 50.

The food-delivery truck was found along Austria's A4 autobahn near the town of Parndorf, which is not far from the border with Hungary and Slovakia.

"We can assume that it could be 20 people who died. It could also be 40, it could be 50 people," an unnamed police official was quoted by Reuters as saying.

"The level of information is currently very poor. One can imagine how the condition of these people is. Therefore we cannot yet say how many dead there are also," National Police Director Hanspeter Doskozil was quoted by RT.com as saying.

Austria's Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner called it a "dark day." She said the tragedy highlighted the need for common European Union policies to protect migrants being smuggled across Europe.

The Guardian writes: "Road employees spotted the lorry and alerted the police. Detectives then made the horrific discovery. A manhunt for the driver is now underway."

On Tuesday, Austrian police arrested three drivers suspected of transporting migrants from Syria into the EU. One of the drivers had 34 people packed in the back of a truck, the Guardian reports.

Also, as The New York Times notes:

"The grisly discovery coincided with the start of a conference in Vienna on how to make the Balkans more secure and prosperous, partly as a means to stop the flight of thousands seeking better economic conditions in Austria, Germany and other, more wealthy parts of the European Union. The conference is being attended by Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, the European Union's foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, and Balkan heads of government.

"The deep divides and dysfunction of the European Union in handling a crisis that is straining resources and good will were immediately evident at a news conference at the start of the one-day conference. With the foreign ministers of Germany and Austria and a senior European Union official looking on, the foreign ministers of Serbia and Macedonia — two Balkan states that have had tens of thousands of migrants cross their borders in recent weeks — criticized the bloc's response as wholly inadequate."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.
KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and award-winning podcasts.
Your donation helps keep nonprofit journalism free and available for everyone.