Austrian troops start border checks
Austrian soldiers have been stationed along the border with Italy for the first time in contemporary history to block illegal migration.
Troops and police started carrying out checks on vehicles and trains north of the Brenner Pass, the main crossing point with Italy.
The deployed was “the first of this size jointly by the police and armed forces”, said Manfred Dummer of the Austrian police in the province of Tyrol on the border.
Meanwhile, the Austrian government is gearing up for an October election against anti-immigrant parties.
Cars, buses, trucks and trains are being checked by soldiers and police.
The Austrians caught six Africans, including two women, hiding beneath a goods train carrying liquid gas.
The train was travelling to Munich from Bolzano in the idyllic northern Italian region handed to Italy from Austria after the First World War.
Italy objected to the deployment of the army when it was announced last month, arguing that the small numbers trying to reach Austria did not justify breaching the Schengen agreement.
Vienna said it had the right to control who entered the country.
Austrian defence minister Hans Peter Doskozil said in July that the border operation would be “indispensable if the influx into Italy does not diminish”. Austria’s mid-October election sees the coalition government face the far-right Freedom Party, with immigrant an increasingly ticklish issue for the political class.
So far this year nearly 100,000 migrants leaving from Libya have been rescued from the Mediterranean Sea and brought to Italy.
Meanwhile, five largely elderly, German climbers have been killed and another climber was seriously injured after an accident in the Austrian Alps.
Five rescue helicopters were sent to 2,900m altitude in the Zillertal Alps.
The climbers were roped together when one of them appear to have slipped, pulling the others with him, police reported.
They fell 200 metres, landing in a crevasse with the only survivor receiving treatment in nearby Salzburg.
Officials say the climbers were below the Mannlkarscharte pass near Krimml where rockslides made recovery of the bodies more difficult.
“We think a rope may have come loose,” said Anton Voithofer of the Red Cross rescue team.
Three of those who died were over 60 and the injured man was in his 70s.
The Brenner Pass between Austria and Italy. Picture credit: Wikimedia