At least 20 migrants making their way from conflict-hit states have been found dead in a lorry in Austria, authorities said.
The number of dead people discovered in the truck in the eastern province in Burgenland could be as high as 50, the BBC reported.
The tragic discovery was made on a main road close to the border with Hungary. Austrian police described the deaths as a ‘horrible crime’.
Local media reported that the victims ‘suffocated’ after being trapped in the lorry’s trailer, and a ‘massive’ police manhunt was launched to find the driver.
The news comes following reports of tens of thousands of migrants from conflict zones in the Middle East and Africa trying to make their way to Europe.
The vehicle had been at the scene since yesterday, but was only found early this morning. The victims had passed away some time ago, and had begun decomposing.
Johanna Mikl-Leitner, Austria’s Interior Minister, told a news conference it was a ‘dark day’, adding that their thoughts were with the victims and their families.
She told reporters that the tragedy again underlined the urgent need for common European Union policies to protect migrants and to combat people traffickers.