Number of Decomposing Bodies in Truck Rises to 71

3 people held in Hungary are reportedly from Bulgaria
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 28, 2015 6:41 AM CDT
Updated Aug 28, 2015 6:59 AM CDT
The chief of the Burgenland police, Hans Peter Doskozil, speaks to the media at a news conference at a police station in Eisenstadt, Austria, yesterday.   (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)
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(Newser) – The refrigerated truck left on an Austrian roadside didn't just contain the decomposing remains of 20 to 50 migrants as first thought. Police now say at least 71 people—59 men, eight women, and four children, believed to be Syrian refugees—died inside the vehicle, which police believe left Budapest, Hungary, early Wednesday and was first seen parked along an Austrian motorway early yesterday. A worker mowing grass near the truck, abandoned just a few miles into Austria, noticed "putrid liquid" dripping from the open back door and alerted police, reports the Guardian, via the Krone. The initial count's inaccuracy was due to how crammed the bodies were and the poor condition they were in, reports the Telegraph.

After finding a travel document among the victims, "our preliminary assumption is of course that they were refugees, possibly a group of Syrian refugees," Burgenland's police chief tells the BBC. Three people are being held in Hungary; police hope they'll "lead to the perpetrators," the police chief says, adding there's "an indication we are talking about a Bulgarian-Hungarian human trafficking operation." The dead are believed to have suffocated in the refrigeration vehicle; the police chief says they've thus far "found that there was no ventilation possible through [its] sides." The Guardian reports poultry company Hyza sold the truck last year; it's registered to a Romanian living in Hungary. (Read more migrants stories.)

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