Greece train crash: Survivors describe ‘nightmare seconds’

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Watch: Rescuers search the wreckage of a deadly train crash in Greece

Survivors have told of the “nightmare 10 seconds” when their train carriage overturned and was engulfed in flames in a crash in northern Greece.

At least 32 people have died and dozens of others were injured in the head-on collision between two trains near the city of Larissa on Tuesday evening.

Rescuers worked through the night to find survivors.

– We heard a big bang, said the 28-year-old passenger Stergios Minenis, who jumped to safety from the wreckage.

“We turned in the carriage until we fell on the side and until the noise stopped. Then there was panic. Cables, fire. The fire was immediate. While we were turning we were burned. Fire was right and left, Minenis was quoted by the Reuters news agency.

“For 10, 15 seconds it was chaos. Overturning, fires, cables hanging, broken windows, people screaming, people trapped.”

People have described having to crawl through windows and over broken glass as they tried to escape.

According to a shaken passenger who spoke to Skai TV, “the windows suddenly burst” and “people were screaming and scared”.

“Fortunately, we got the doors open and escaped quite quickly. In other carriages, they couldn’t get out, and one carriage even caught fire.”

Fellow passenger Angelos Tsiamoura told local media that the crash had felt like an earthquake, while another named Lazos told the Protothema newspaper: “I was not injured, but I was stained with blood from other people who were injured near me.”

The passenger train had been traveling from Athens to the northern city of Thessaloniki when it crashed head-on with the other freight train, causing at least one of the carriages to catch fire.

It is described as the worst train accident Greece has ever seen, but the cause of the collision is not yet known.

About 150 firefighters and 40 ambulances were at the scene, Greek emergency services said, with cranes also being used to remove debris.

“It was a very powerful collision,” the regional governor of the Thessalia region, Kostas Agorastos, told state television.

“This is a terrible night… It is difficult to describe the scene.”

He said the first four carriages of the passenger train were derailed and the first two carriages caught fire and were “almost completely destroyed”.

“They were traveling at high speed and one (driver) did not know the other was coming,” the governor said.

Footage of the collision’s aftermath showed thick clouds of smoke rising from derailed carriages.

Conditions for rescue workers were “very difficult” due to the “severity of the collision”, fire service spokesman Vassilis Varthakoyiannis told reporters.

“I’ve never seen anything like this in my whole life. It’s tragic. Five hours later we find bodies,” an exhausted rescuer who emerged from the wreckage told the AFP news agency.

“We’re living through a tragedy. We’re pulling people out alive, injured… there’s dead. We’re going to be here all night, until we’re done, until we find the last person,” another rescue volunteer told ERT state broadcaster in comments quoted by Reuters.

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