Austria truck tragedy: Three children go missing from hospital
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VIENNA, Aug 31 — Three Syrian children hospitalised with severe dehydration after being rescued in Austria from a van packed with migrants have “vanished” with their parents, police said yesterday.
“We have just found out that they left hospital yesterday (Saturday) with their parents. Then they vanished, and we think they went to Germany,” spokesman David Furtner told AFP.
The two five-year-old girls and one six-year-old boy were among 26 migrants in the back of a van pulled over by police near the German border after a short chase shortly after 4:00 am on Friday morning.
Their rescue came a day after an abandoned truck containing 71 dead migrants including four children was found on a motorway in eastern Austria near the Hungarian border, provoking international revulsion.
The children in the van were in an “extremely bad state of health” and if the journey had continued the situation “could probably have become critical,” police in Upper Austria state in northern Austria said.
The Austria Press Agency yesterday quoted a doctor at the hospital in Braunau am Inn saying that although the children would have been kept in, “from a medical point they were not in danger any more”.
Like many migrants caught in Austria — as well as the truck with the 71 bodies — the Fiat Ducato with Spanish number plates driven by a Romanian began its journey in Hungary and was headed for Germany.
EU member Hungary, Austria’s neighbour to the east, has this year reported more than 140,000 migrants crossing over from Serbia. Most go on to places like Germany or Sweden, via Austria.
Since Hungary is in the visa-free Schengen zone, onwards travel is relatively easy.
Austrian police have however stepped up checks, and Furtner said that this year alone police in Upper Austria have arrested 93 human traffickers transporting a total of 1,630 migrants.
“These are the ones we arrest. Most escape,” he said.
“In terms of the drivers, Romanians are the most common, followed by Serbs, Hungarians, Bulgarians and the occasional ‘exotic’ case like the Congolese man who lived in Italy.” — AFP