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Death toll rises for desperate refugees and migrants in Europe

It was another deadly day amid the growing refugee crisis in Europe. Hundreds are feared dead just off the coast of Libya, and the number of victims found in the back of a truck in Austria has risen to more than 70. Lindsey Hilsum of Independent Television News visits a refugee camp in Austria.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    There's more tragedy to report tonight as desperate refugees and migrants continue to make their way toward and through Europe. Hundreds are feared dead just off the coast of Libya, and the number of victims found dead in a truck in Austria rose to more than 70.

    Lindsey Hilsum of Independent Television News reports.

  • LINDSEY HILSUM:

    The first coffins of the 71 people found dead in a truck at the roadside yesterday may be the only time they have been treated with dignity in weeks, 59 men, eight women, four children amongst the bodies of Syrian identity documents.

    HANS PETER DOSKOZIL, Burgenland Police Chief (through interpreter): We have confirmed that the insulating layer on the sides of the truck didn't allow any air to pass through. We can neither rule in or out whether they insured that air came through the cooling system or the roof. I believe that, most likely, the people in this lorry suffocated.

  • LINDSEY HILSUM:

    The truck passed no border controls when it entered Austria from Hungary because both countries are in the E.U. Schengen Area.

  • JOHANNA MIKL-LEITNER, Austrian Interior Minister:

    I think the solution is not to make more border checks. I think the best solution is to find easier ways to Europe, because on the one side, you can protect the refugees. On the other side, it is the best in the fight against the criminals.

  • LINDSEY HILSUM:

    This morning's scenes on the Libyan coast make that appear even less likely. Up to 200 people drowned from two boats trying to reach Italy. Deaths at sea, deaths in a refrigerated truck, coffins or body bags, it's primarily Eritreans Africans who set out from Libya, but Syrians were also amongst those rescued yesterday.

    AYAMN TALAAL, Migrant (through interpreter): We have been forced to take this route. It's called the route of death. We now call it the graveyard of the Mediterranean.

  • LINDSEY HILSUM:

    Such images do little to prick the conscience of those who believe Europe can neither absorb migrants seeking a better life, nor refugees fleeing conflict. But this morning at Austria's overcrowded refugee camp at Traiskirchen, just south of Vienna, we found volunteers bringing aid.

  • WOMAN:

    We want to do something, not only talking, not only listening, not only reading on Facebook and all that social media, doing, helping.

  • WOMAN:

    So, we asked our friends if they have clothes, spare clothes, because people are collecting things in their homes and actually here they could use.

  • LINDSEY HILSUM:

    The building, once the imperial artillery cadet school, was converted in 1956 to house Hungarians fleeing the Soviets. Now it's sheltering people fleeing through, not from Hungary. Since Amnesty criticized the conditions in which nearly 5,000 refugees live, individual Austrians have started to help.

  • WOMAN:

    People here are very, very, very good. They respect Syria, and they give us many help, from clothes and the — anywhere — anything we want.

  • LINDSEY HILSUM:

    That's good.

  • WOMAN:

    Yes.

  • LINDSEY HILSUM:

    So what is your dream? What are you hoping to do?

  • WOMAN:

    Dream? I hope to study here, because, in Syria, I was studying mechanical engineering, yes, power engineering. Yes? And I hope to complete my university here.

  • LINDSEY HILSUM:

    Across Europe, not least here in Austria, politicians fear anti-immigrant pressure groups, hence the tough anti-foreigner talk. But there are other voices, other views.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Lindsey Hilsum reporting.

    Today, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that European Union ministers will be looking into rapid changes to the asylum system.

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