In Brief

Migrant crisis: more than 70 people found dead in Austria lorry

Death toll in the Mediterranean also soars as hundreds of refugees drown off the coast of Libya

More than 70 bodies have been discovered in the back of a lorry in Austria and hundreds of refugees are feared dead after two boats sunk in the Mediterranean, as Europe's migrant crisis deepens.

Austrian police discovered the badly decomposed bodies of 71 people in a lorry which had been abandoned on motorway near the Hungarian border. 

The 59 men, eight women and four children are believed to be Syrian refugees and probably died after suffocating in the back of the vehicle, police told the BBC.

Three people, thought to be Bulgarian nationals who owned and drove the vehicle, have been arrested Hungary in connection with the deaths. 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was "shaken by the appalling news" during a summit on the European refugee crisis in Vienna.

"This is a warning for us to tackle the issue of migration quickly. We have more refugees in the world than at any time since the Second World War," she said. "The world’s eyes are upon us."

Meanwhile, hundreds more refugees have reportedly drowned attempting to cross the Mediterranean from Libya. Two boats carrying about 500 people capsized shortly after leaving the country, with Libyan officials reporting that 200 of them were rescued.

Earlier this week, the bodies of 51 people were discovered in the hold of a stricken ship off the coast of Libya. They were discovered by a Swedish coastguard ship which also rescued more than 400 survivors – among at least 3,000 migrants saved that day, the BBC reports.

The UN estimates that nearly 2,500 migrants have died trying to make the perilous sea crossing this year alone. It says the vast majority are refugees fleeing war and persecution in countries in North Africa and the Middle East.

Amnesty International has called the current global refugee crisis one of the "defining challenges" of the 21st century and condemned the response from world leader as "a shameful failure."

"Millions of women, men and children [are] struggling to survive amidst brutal wars, networks of people traffickers and governments who pursue selfish political interests instead of showing basic human compassion," secretary general Salil Shetty said in a statement in June.

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