1 Sep 2015

Austrians turn out to support migrants

8:52 pm on 1 September 2015

Thousands of people have taken to the streets of the Austrian capital, Vienna, to demonstrate against the ill-treatment of refugees.

Protesters hold a banner in Vienna during a rally against ill-treatment of migrants.

Protesters hold a banner in Vienna during a rally against ill-treatment of migrants. Photo: AFP

They held up banners reading "refugees welcome" and "I don't want Europe to be a mass grave".

Last week, the bodies of 71 migrants, thought to have been from Syria, were found in an abandoned truck on an Austrian motorway.

The march took place as a service was held for the dead at St Stephen's Cathedral.

The number of migrants entering Europe has reached record levels, with 107,500 arriving in July alone.

Most of those found dead on Thursday, on the A4 at Parndorf, were thought to be Syrians fleeing the country's civil war.

Five people have been detained in connection with the deaths.

The refrigerated truck being towed from the site.

The refrigerated truck the bodies were found in. Photo: AFP

As well as the bodies in the lorry in Austria, hundreds more people drowned in the Mediterranean last week while trying to reach Europe from Libya.

On Monday, Austrian authorities had stopped trains heading for Vienna from the Hungarian capital Budapest, saying they would turn back anyone on board who had made a request for asylum in Hungary - but it is not clear if this actually happened.

Austria's rail service OeBB said the route from Budapest was facing severe disruption due to "overcrowding".

Tonight, Hungary closed Budapest's main Eastern Railway station, with no trains departing or arriving until further notice.

Hundreds of angry migrants demonstrated outside the railway station, demanding it be reopened and they be allowed to travel on to Germany.

People have been told to leave and police have lined up at the main entrance.

A government spokesman said Hungary was trying to enforce EU law, which requires anyone who wishes to travel within Europe to hold a valid passport and visa.

Austrian police earlier said up to 1000 people arrived in Vienna's main railway station on Monday, and were met by volunteers handing out food and drink.

Once in Austria, migrants would have two weeks to decide whether or not they wanted to claim refugee status there, police said.

Germany is the main destination for migrants arriving on the EU's eastern borders and expects to take in 800,000 migrants this year - four times last year's total.


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