Austria reports 71 refugees died in refrigerator truck, four of them children
A truck found yesterday in the east of Austria turned out to contain 71 dead refugees, four of them children. Hans Peter Doskozil, Chief of Police in the Austrian state of Burgenland, announced the number at a press conference today.
Doskozil said three suspects have been arrested in Hungary in connection with the case. Hungarian Police later announced a fourth suspect had been arrested.
The vehicle with Hungarian plates, which once belonged to a Slovak firm, was found parked on the side of the highway near the Hungarian border. Police then towed the vehicle to the hall of what used to be a veterinary station at the border.
The vehicle was registered in Hungary by a Romanian citizen. Doskozil originally estimated the number of dead refugees as between 20 and 50.
The police chief also said the people might have been dead for two days. According to the findings so far, they were dead when the vehicle entered Austrian territory.
"This tragedy has affected us all," Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner said at a press conference yesterday. "Human traffickers are criminals. Those who still think that they are gentle helpers of refugees are beyond saving."
The truck was found on the side of the A4 highway near the eastern town of Neusiedl am See. The A4 is the main artery between Budapest and Vienna.
According to photographs and video footage released of the vehicle, it is marked with the logo of Hyza, Slovakia'se leading processor and producer of poultry. In response to the tragedy, Hyza said it had sold the vehicle in question and the new owner never removed their logo from it.
"The vehicle with Hungarian plates used in this crime was released from the company's fleet and then sold as part of an operation in 2013 and 2014 when the company sold off another 20 vehicles of that type to seven different private companies in the Slovak Republic," the company's statement says. Hyza also noted that all of its current vehicles are equipped with GPS and are still on the territory of Slovakia.
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