At least 20 partially decomposing bodies were found in a truck Thursday in Austria on a route coming from the Hungarian border, while European leaders met a short distance away in Vienna to discuss the region's migrant crisis and possible policy solutions. Austrian police told the Associated Press that identifying the bodies would be difficult and they were still working to provide an exact death toll, which could end up being higher than 50.
As the discovery unfolded, leaders from Balkan nations and Germany were discussing finding a joint approach to dealing with the surge of migrants fleeing violence in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia, the Los Angeles Times reported. Many of the migrants aim to reach western Europe and apply for asylum.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the western Balkans were facing "huge challenges" in the migrant crisis and that everyone was "shaken" by news of the Austrian tragedy. She called the deaths a "warning" about migration to the EU.
The truck, bearing Hungarian license plates, had been abandoned, but the back door where the bodies were found was left open. As the horrifying discovery was made, Europeans expressed their shock. "This tragedy is shocking for all of us. We all know people traffickers are criminals," Austria's Interior Minister, Johanna Mikl-Leitner, said.
A Channel 4 reporter was at the scene and tweeted images of the truck.
— Lindsey Hilsum (@lindseyhilsum) August 27, 2015
On Wednesday, 50 migrants were found dead in a boat off the coast of Libya while 430 were rescued alive, the BBC reported.
Hungary's government has estimated that as many as 300,000 migrants could pass through the country while trying to reach western Europe.