Migrants found in 'prison cell on wheels' in Austria

AFP , Tuesday 1 Sep 2015

Austrian police, on high alert for people-smugglers since last week's truck tragedy, said Tuesday they rescued 24 young Afghan migrants crammed inside a van that was like a "prison cell on wheels".

"The car was carrying 24 Afghan minors, most aged around 16 or 17. They had been packed into this dangerous vehicle like objects, crammed on top of each other into a very small space," a spokesman told AFP.

"The windows and side doors had been welded shut, a grill had been welded to the inside of the windows which were sprayed in black paint. A locking bolt had also been attached to the doors on the outside. It was like a prison cell on wheels."

Austrian police have stepped up checks on trucks and vans after the dead bodies of 71 migrants were found in the back of an abandoned truck on an Austrian motorway last Thursday.

Many of the 50,000 migrants who entered Hungary in August alone hope to travel onwards to countries in western Europe like Germany and Sweden, which invariably means transiting through Austria.

The Romanian driver in the latest incident fled after police pulled over the vehicle in Vienna. He was later apprehended with help of a police dog called Iceman. The 24 Afghans needed no medical treatment.

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