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The Decomposed Bodies of Up to 50 Migrants Have Been Found in a Truck in Austria

The news of the deaths comes as a summit is underway in Vienna, focusing on how to strengthen support for Balkan states struggling to deal with increasing numbers of migrants and refugees.
Imagen por Roland Schlager/EPA

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Dozens of dead migrants have been discovered in a truck in Austria, near its eastern border with Hungary. The number of bodies found is somewhere between 20 and 50, Austrian authorities said, and they had begun to decompose.

The vehicle was parked near the town of Parndorf, on the side of the A4 — the main road to the Austrian capital of Vienna. It was found early on Thursday morning.


Responding to the discovery, Austria's Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner told reporters that this was a "dark day."

Related: Germany Is Set to Accept Asylum Applications From all Syrians Who Arrive There

The news of the deaths comes as a summit is underway in Vienna, focusing on how to strengthen support for western Balkan states as they deal with increasing numbers of refugees and migrants, as well as discussing methods of fortifying the external borders of the European Union (EU).

In an interview with the BBC, Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz said that he didn't have faith in the Dublin system — whereby migrants are forced to claim asylum in the first European country they reach.

"The truth is the Dublin system is not working anymore and the truth is also that the idea of the EU — a union without borders inside — also needs functional border control at the external borders of the EU… If we do not have functional border control at the external borders of the EU, the whole idea of the EU without borders inside is in danger."

Related: What We Witnessed at a French Migrant Camp Allegedly Controlled by People Smugglers

Earlier this week the UN refugee agency estimated that almost 300,000 people have crossed the Mediterranean so far this year. Those who make the journey are often fleeing war-torn parts of the Middle East and Africa.

Refugees and migrants who cross into Europe usually attempt to continue their journey, moving from overburdened Greece and Italy into wealthier western European countries before registering for asylum. Those who can afford it might pay smugglers to take them all or part of the way.

Germany has said that it expects to receive 800,000 asylum seekers by the end of the year.

Some 43 percent of asylum claims in the EU are currently being made in Germany or Sweden, according to a UN spokeswoman. British Home Office figures released on Thursday show that Germany receives 27 applications from Syrian asylum seekers for each one that the UK receives.

Follow Sally Hayden on Twitter: @sallyhayd