Increasing Number of Migrants Smuggled In Freight Trains

Alex Ogle/AFP/Getty Images

Migrants in Austria are frequently being discovered in the cars of freight trains as they attempt to sneak across the border from Italy, leading to several deaths.

Four migrants from Eritrea were arrested Tuesday in the Austrian region of Tyrol after police discovered them in one of the cars of a freight train, OE24 reports.

The migrants were attempting to sneak into the country from Italy, which has become inundated with a record number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea this year.

Police say two of the Eritreans involved attempted to flee the scene after police had arrived and arrested the other pair of migrants. The pair who fled were caught and arrested a short time later. All four had hidden under loaded freight cars and were discovered by the workers of the Austrian national railway company ÖBB.

The tactic of using freight trains to cross the national borders from Italy has become more common in recent weeks as many migrants who have tried to cross the Italian border with Austria at the Brenner Pass, or the Swiss border near Como have been rejected at the border.

Earlier this month in Germany two migrants, also from Eritrea, were discovered in a freight car. The 16 and 20-year-olds told authorities that they had got on the train at Verona in northern Italy and wanted to seek asylum in Germany. The dangers of the trip were also readily apparent to police who discovered that the migrants had signs of frostbite from the journey in the unheated car, and they were sent to a nearby hospital for treatment.

Recently, an 18-year-old Afghan national was discovered in Kosovo near the Serbian border having frozen to death on his way to the Bulgarian capital of Sofia.  In Italy, only days before the discovery of the Afghan in Kosovo, another migrant, suspected to be from Eritrea, was found dead having been hit by an oncoming train.

The record number of migrants in Italy has led to many seeking more and more dangerous methods to get themselves across the borders to their favoured destination of Germany. As the tensions flare in Greece, Italy, and Bulgaria and with the looming possibility of the European Union-Turkey migrant deal dissolving, the capacity of authorities to handle the crisis is being pushed to its limit.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at


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