Thursday, August 27, 2015
Austrian police today found an estimated 20–50 decomposing corpses in an apparently abandoned lorry.
Roadworkers who spotted the vehicle, which had been there since yesterday at least, alerted police. Responding officers found it full of corpses. The lorry is on the so-called “Eastern Motorway”, the A4, close to the Hungarian border. It was on the hard shoulder between Neusiedl and Parndorf, closer to Parndorf.
The victims are thought to have suffocated. Police are seeking the driver. The Krone published an image of a non-articulated food lorry on the hard shoulder, which they report is the vehicle in question. The photo shows a pool of dark liquid on the ground beside the vehicle.
Video from a passing motorist shows at least one helicopter on-scene. The truck, which has pictures of meat on the side, shows branding for Slovakian food firm Hyza. Earlier today the company’s website sported an apparent anti-immigration graphic, which has since been removed.
Wikinews got in touch with Hyza. “We are truly sorry about [the] tragedy” they told us in a statement. They said they have checked GPS trackers on their fleet and all their vehicles remain in Slovakia. The statement says the lorry in question was one of 21 Hyza vehicles sold on last year. It was then sold again and exported to Hungary, where it is now registered. Hyza told us the new owners have not changed the branding on the vehicle. According to the Bild newspaper, Agrofert — the parent company of Hyza — said in a statement the new owners were required to do so.
Hyza says they will “actively cooperate with Slovak police”, and “express [their] sincere condolences to the bereaved families.”
Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner called it “a dark day” and called for European Union-wide measures to protect immigrant refugees and tackle human traffickers. Neighbouring Hungary is constructing a border fence across its entire frontier with Serbia. Yesterday alone saw a record 3,241 attempts to enter Hungary illegally, according to authorities there.
Conflict in Syria and other parts of the world has led refugees to Europe. Once inside, they can move freely inside the Schengen Area, which covers most of the EU.
Austrian police earlier this week arrested three motorists suspected of people smuggling. One driver is accused of moving 34 people, ten of them children, into Austria from Serbia. The group were left by the roadside near Bruck an der Leitha and reported struggling to breathe in the van.