70 bodies of migrants retrieved from truck in Austria
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70 bodies of migrants retrieved from truck in Austria

Death toll jumps from initial estimates of between 20 and 50; no other information given on identities, ages or origin

A refrigerated truck is towed along a highway near Neusiedl am See, Austria, on August 27, 2015. (AFP/Dieter Nagl)
A refrigerated truck is towed along a highway near Neusiedl am See, Austria, on August 27, 2015. (AFP/Dieter Nagl)

The bodies of more than 70 dead migrants have been recovered from an abandoned truck found on an Austrian motorway, more than the initial estimate of between 20 and 50, the Austrian government said Friday.

The number was confirmed to AFP by interior ministry spokesman Alexander Marakovits. The vehicle was found on Thursday morning on a motorway near the borders with Slovakia and Hungary.

No further details on the identities, ages or origin of the dead was available, but Austrian police in the eastern state of Burgenland were due to give a news conference at 11:00 a.m. (09:00 GMT).

The refrigerated, 7.5-ton truck had Hungarian number plates and the markings of a Slovakian poultry firm. The driver was nowhere to be seen and Austrian and Hungarian police have launched a joint investigation.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in Austria for a summit with Balkan leaders on Europe’s migrant crisis on Thursday, said she was “shaken” by the “horrible” news.

“This is a warning to us to tackle this migrants issue quickly and in a European spirit, which means in a spirit of solidarity, and to find solutions,” Merkel said.

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