BERLIN (AP) — Thirty-five migrants were found inside a truck trailer in southern Austria after the vehicle was damaged and a worker at a repair shop heard noises from inside, police said Thursday. The driver was arrested.
A Polish-registered car drove the wrong way out of a highway rest area near Klagenfurt on Wednesday afternoon, causing derailments that damaged tires and caused some of them to burst into flames, Carinthia state police said in a statement. The driver extinguished the fire.
Witnesses reported the incident to highway police and the vehicle was towed to nearby Villach, where the truck was taken to a garage for repairs. Police say the driver, a 68-year-old Turkish national, contacted his “boss” who became agitated when told the work would not be completed until the next morning and demanded that the repairs be completed as quickly as possible.
Around 9 p.m., seven hours after the highway incident, a garage employee noticed noises and sounds coming from a closed trailer parked while the truck was being repaired, police said. Another employee, using an infrared camera, saw evidence of movement inside the car.
Police were called and opened the trailer to find 35 people inside who were suffering from the cold and had spent more than 70 hours in the car without supplies. They said the people were from Bangladesh, Nepal and Egypt, but they were still investigating their route and intended destination.
The driver, who accompanied the truck to the garage, was arrested on the spot.
In August 2015, 71 migrants were found dead in the back of a truck abandoned on an Austrian highway near the Hungarian border. They were among more than a million migrants and refugees from the Middle East and Afghanistan who crossed into the EU, Turkey and the Balkans that year.