The Courier-Mail

HORROR HAUL

Bodies of 71 migrants found decomposin­g in abandoned truck

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VIENNA: Austrian police found the decomposin­g bodies of 71 migrants in an abandoned truck on Thursday, sparking a cross-border hunt for the people-smugglers responsibl­e for the latest tragedy in Europe’s migrant crisis.

The news came as European leaders met in Vienna to discuss the growing humanitari­an crisis.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was “shaken” by the “horrible” news.

Three people believed to be part of a human smuggling operation were arrested over the discovery last night.

Investigat­ors found a Syrian travel document, indicating that at least some of the dead were refugees fleeing violence in Syria. The 71 included eight women and four children, the youngest a girl between one and two years old, the others boys aged 8 to 10.

Officials believe the migrants suffocated in the truck.

The bodies were found as at least 30 more migrants drowned in the Mediterran­ean

Austrian police said the vehicle, found abandoned in the emergency lane of a motorway, had “decomposin­g body fluids” emanating from it.

When they opened it, there was a powerful stench of human decay and the bodies lay piled on top of each other, crammed into a small rectangula­r space in a sea of tangled limbs.

It was the latest tragedy in a year that has seen tens of thousands of people risking all to seek a better life or refuge in wealthy European countries.

“This reminds us that we in Europe need to tackle the problem quickly and find solutions in the spirit of solidarity,” Ms Merkel said.

Migrants fearful of death at sea in overcrowde­d and flimsy boats as they flee turmoil and war in the Middle East have increasing­ly turned to using a land route to Europe through the Western Balkans. But the discovery of the bodies in the truck on the main highway connecting Vienna to the Hungarian capital of Budapest showed there was no truly safe path.

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 ??  ?? FULLF FLOW: Migrants slip into Hungary from Serbia; a migrant on a bus at the Hungarian/ Serbian border; the death truck. Pictures: AFP, AP
FULLF FLOW: Migrants slip into Hungary from Serbia; a migrant on a bus at the Hungarian/ Serbian border; the death truck. Pictures: AFP, AP

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