The young men had been hidden in the truck in Greece by a people smuggler, but managed to draw attention to their plight as they crossed the Austrian border from Italy into Carinthia, Austrian media reported.
The truck driver, from Hungary, had no idea about his hidden cargo. He was driving on the Kärntner Straße (B83) through Thörl-Maglern on Saturday when he heard a knocking sound from inside the trailer. He stopped in a parking lot and when he opened the trailer the six stowaways jumped out and fled.
Police found the men shortly afterwards. Two of them had been slightly injured as they escaped and were treated in the outpatient department of a local hospital. All six had hypothermia after having spent around 30 hours in the refrigerator truck.
They said that they had been hidden in the truck in the Greek port of Patras, and confirmed that the driver did not know they were there. On Saturday night Austrian officials handed them over to Italian police.
In a separate incident on Sunday police in Kufstein, Tyrol, arrested 38 refugees on a passenger train travelling from Italy to Germany. They were from Eritrea, Sudan, Mali and Nigeria. They are being cared for by the Red Cross in Plon and will be handed over to the Italian authorities.
Under the terms of the Dublin II Regulation – the core principle for handling asylum claims in the EU – responsibility for examining the claim lies primarily with the member state which played the greatest part in the applicant's entry or residence in the EU. This means that refugees who cross the border are returned to Italy for further processing.