TRIPOLI/VIENNA, Aug 28: About 200 migrants from Africa, the Middle East and Asia died when their overcrowded boat sank off the Libyan coast while Austrian authorities on Friday raised to 70 the number of refugees found dead in the back of an abandoned freezer truck.
Three people were arrested in Hungary in connection with the vehicle deaths, Austria's Krone newspaper said, although authorities in Austria and Hungary could not confirm the report.
Both tragedies were a result
of a renewed surge in migrants seeking refuge from war and poverty that has confronted Europe with its worst refugee crisis since World War Two.
A security official in the western Libyan town of Zuwara, from where the doomed boat had set off, said there had been around 400 people on board. Many appeared to have been trapped in the hold when it capsized on Thursday.
By late evening, the Libyan coast guard had rescued around 201, of which 147 were brought to a detention facility for illegal migrants in Sabratha, west of Tripoli.
The migrants were from sub-Saharan Africa, Pakistan, Syria, Morocco and Bangladesh, the security official said.
The Italian coast guard said 1,430 people had been rescued in various operations off Libya on Thursday, and a merchant ship sent to the aid of a small boat carrying 125 people recovered two bodies.
Libya is a major transit route for migrants hoping to make it to Europe. Smuggling networks exploit the country's lawlessness and chaos to bring Syrians into Libya via Egypt while Africans arrive through Niger, Sudan and Chad.
On land, a wave of refugees and migrants has swept north through the Balkans in recent days, with thousands of Syrians, Afghans and Pakistanis crossing from Serbia into EU-member Hungary, where authorities said more than 140,000 had been caught entering the country so far this year.
Almost all hope to reach the more affluent countries of northern and western Europe such as Germany and Sweden.
Meanwhile, Austrian police on Friday raised the number of migrants found dead and decomposing in an abandoned truck on a motorway to 71.
Libyan rescue workers recovered 76 bodies from yet another capsized boat crammed with desperate people trying to make it to Europe.
In a particularly horrifying tragedy in Europe's unrelenting migrant crisis, Austrian authorities said the bodies found in the
truck were likely Syrians and included a toddler and three young boys. ?AFP