Austria finds dozens of migrants in refrigerated truck

Dozens of migrants, including children, have been discovered hiding in a refrigerated truck, Austrian police said on Wednesday after arresting a suspected member of a network smuggling people through the EU.

The case recalled the 2015 tragedy of 71 decomposing bodies loaded in the back of a refrigerated vehicle abandoned on a highway in Austria. They had died of suffocation in Hungary and four smugglers - an Afghan and three Bulgarians - were convicted and jailed.

Police said in the current case, 38 people from Syria, Iraq and Turkey, including six minors, were held last week after their truck pulled up in Lower Austria.

The migrants said they had "been afraid they would die and suffered a lack of oxygen" during the trip from Romania through Hungary, a police statement said, without specifying where the truck was headed.

Several passengers, who paid between €6,000 and €8,000 (S$9,638 and S$12,850) for the trip, managed to run into nearby fields when the vehicle stopped along a highway, leading witnesses to alert the authorities. The 51-year-old driver, a Turkish citizen living in Romania, was also arrested.

"We are currently seeing a rise in smuggling," Lower Austria police official Omar Haijawi-Pirchner said, adding investigations focused on "smashing" the smuggling network involved to "avoid further crimes".

More on this subject: Migration crisis

Similar articles

  • Austria welcomes only vaccinated skiers

    Austria welcomes only vaccinated skiers

    Austria hopes for a safe ski season this year as the country is likely to admit only vaccinated tourists. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz confirmed that if the Covid-19 situation gets worse and the number of new cases rises, only vaccinated guests will get access to ski establishments, dpa reported. In Austria, 70 per cent of people over age 12 are vaccinated and most tourists are too, Kurz said.

    20
  • France recalls envoys over diplomatic row with US, Australia

    France recalls envoys over diplomatic row with US, Australia

    France stepped up a diplomatic row with US and Australia over a failed contract which resulted in dumped security deal concerning building and delivery of submarines to Canberra. Paris recalled its ambassadors in US and Australia, Reuters reported. The decision taken by President Emmanuel Macron was made due to the "exceptional gravity" of the matter, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said.

    33