Budapest, August 27 (MTI) – Government office chief Janos Lazar has confirmed that the truck found abandoned on an Austrian motorway with dead migrants inside had Hungarian number plates.
Austria’s police force has contacted its Hungarian counterpart and the two are working together to track down whoever is responsible for the migrants’ deaths, Lazar said told a regular government press conference on Thursday. He said it was likely that the victims were heading west with the help of Hungarians. The development further illustrates how the migrant crisis has worsened over the past weeks, the government office chief said.
Earlier on Thursday Austrian news agency APA reported that at least 20 migrants were found dead in a truck abandoned on Austria’s A4 motorway leading from the Hungarian border, citing Hans Peter Doskozil, the police chief of Burgenland province.
“This tragedy concerns us all,” Johanna Mikl-Leitner, Austria’s minister of interior, said, referring to the incident. “Human smugglers are criminals. Anyone who still thinks they are the humble helpers of refugees cannot be helped,” she said.
APA said the truck was discovered on Thursday morning by the motorway’s operators. The A4 motorway, which leads to Vienna, also connects to Hungary’s M1 motorway.
Lazar said that a Romanian citizen had bought the van from a Slovak company and applied for the number plate in Kecskemet, in southern Hungary. A detailed briefing by police will be forthcoming, he said.
The minister said that the government, based on events of the past 48 hours, considers that the army will be needed for defence of the border. Codification work to ensure the necessary legal conditions required for this measure is taking place, he added.
Consultations have been held with the German government in connection with Syrian arrivals. Berlin said that the German authorities are examining and deciding on asylum requests and was only deferring these for the time being.
The ruling Fidesz party said the “traumatic event” near the Hungary-Austria border was a sign that the migration policy of the EU pursued so far had failed.
In a statement, Fidesz said that it was with sadness they had learned of the deaths and they also expressed sympathy for the families of the deceased.
Instead of crossing at uncoordinated parts of the border, crossing should take place under controlled conditions in order to avoid such incidents, Fidesz said, adding that its parliamentary group backed the government’s efforts to abolish uncontrolled border areas and ensure policed border crossings.
“This must be done to protect those who have been misled and deceived … by irresponsible, profit-seeking traffickers who deserve to be in prison,” the statement said.
The national police said it was sending officers to help their Austrian counterparts with the investigation. A representative of the police force said Lieutenant-General Karoly Papp had agreed with the Austrian police chief that he would send Hungary’s operational police forces to aid local police efforts. Papp stressed that he had no further information on the case, as the investigation is headed by Austrian authorities.