Two Syrian Kurds reportedly found dead in minibus packed with migrants in Austrian border town

Austrian policemen stand in front of a residential building in the city of Linz. (Photo: AFP)
Austrian policemen stand in front of a residential building in the city of Linz. (Photo: AFP)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Police in Austria discovered the bodies of two dead refugees in a minibus filled with nearly 30 migrants on Tuesday, with Austrian media reporting that they are both ethnic Kurds from Syria.

The dramatic scene took place in Siegendorf, a town near the Hungarian border in the district of Eisenstadt-Umgebung, located in the state of Burgenland.

Austrian security forces found a small truck that contained 28 refugees, causing the driver to immediately flee the scene, reported the Austrian tabloid Heute.

According to initial reporting, the two Syrian Kurds, both roughly 30 years old, had died somewhere along the journey, being brought over the border from Hungary by smugglers.

Public broadcaster ORF reported that Austrian police, in cooperation with their Hungarian counterparts, have launched a large-scale manhunt to catch the suspected driver.

According to an Associated Press article, Austrian authorities found the bodies of 71 suffocated migrants in the back of an abandoned truck in 2015. At the time it led to widespread consternation due to the fact thousands of people were trying to flee to Europe from conflict and poverty, many from Syria and Iraq.

Thomas Schmidinger, an Austrian academic and expert on Syrian Kurds told Kurdistan 24 that “the ‘Balkan route’ that the recently resigned Chancellor (Sebastian) Kurz was always so proud of closing was never closed.”

“But,” he added, “the measures taken by the EU states to combat (the influx of) refugees have made the journey more expensive and more dangerous.”

Many Syrians, among them a large number of Kurds, have attempted to reach Europe after the Syrian Civil War began in 2011 when a widespread uprising against the authority of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was crushed.

Just one tragic example that sparked worldwide outrage is the death of Alan Kurdi, a three-year-old Syrian Kurdish boy whose body washed up on a Turkish shore in 2015 after his family fled from Syria and a smuggler’s boat sank in the Mediterranean Sea.

Read More: Father of Alan Kurdi wants to join rescue ship named after son

The Syrian conflict has lasted over a decade now and has left at least 350,000 people dead in its wake. Millions of Syrians have also been displaced as a result, with a large proportion of them attempting to reach Europe.

Others have sought shelter in neighboring countries such as Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.