Train accident in Greece: At least 36 dead, many injured


Rescue workers are searching for survivors after a head-on collision between two trains in central Greece killed dozens of people and left many injured, raising questions about the country’s poor record on rail safety.

At least 36 people were killed when a passenger train carrying more than 350 people collided with a freight train just before midnight on Tuesday in Tempi, near the city of Larissa, leaving strewn wagons and piles of debris in its wake. The Greek fire service said 66 people were treated for their injuries in hospitals, and six in intensive care units.

The country’s transport minister resigned on Wednesday, saying the rail system the government inherited was “not up to 21st century standards”.

The two trains involved in the fatal collision were running on the same track for many kilometers before the incident occurred, the state public broadcaster ERT reported on Wednesday. The passenger train had changed lanes and switched to a freight track before it collided head-on with a freight train, according to ERT.

Recovery work is underway, focusing on the first carriages of the passenger train, the Greek fire service said. The death toll is expected to rise.

were killed and more than 85 injured when a passenger train carrying more than 350 people collided with a freight train, shortly before midnight, in Tempi, central Greece, near the city of Larissa, the Greek Fire Service said.” data-duration=”01:03″ data-source-html=” – Source:
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Passengers describe the aftermath of a fatal train collision

Images on ERT showed plumes of thick smoke billowing from overturned wagons and long lines of rescue vehicles alongside them.

Most of the passengers involved in the accident were young, the head of the intensive care unit (ICU) at a local hospital where those with injuries are treated, told ERT on Wednesday.

The process of identifying victims has also started, Greek Health Minister Thanos Plevris said.

Police and emergency crews, pictured March 1, 2023, search for debris from a crushed carriage after a deadly train collision in central Greece on Tuesday.

Pictures emerged showing the devastation after the crash, with emergency workers scrambling to find survivors.

The fatal accident raised questions about the integrity of the railway infrastructure in Greece.

Greece has a poor record for rail passenger safety compared to other countries in Europe, showing the highest number of fatalities per million train kilometers from 2018 to 2020 among 28 nations on the continent, according to a 2022 report by the European Union Agency for Railways.

“It is a fact that we received the Greek railway system in a state that is not up to the standards of the 21st century,” Greek Transport Minister Kostas Karamanlis said on Wednesday as he resigned, adding that for the past three and a half years the government had “done everything to improve this reality.”

– Unfortunately, our efforts have not been sufficient to prevent such a serious incident. And this is very heavy for all of us and me personally.

“I am resigning as Minister of Transport and Infrastructure. It is what I feel is my responsibility to do as the smallest sign of respect for the memory of the people who died so unjustly.”

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis visits the site of an accident on Wednesday.

During a visit to the site on Wednesday, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis vowed to find out what caused the collision.

“What we are experiencing today as a country is very difficult. We are talking about an indescribable tragedy, Mitsotakis told reporters.

“One thing I can guarantee: We will find out the causes of this tragedy and do everything in our power to make sure this never happens again.”

Greek police told CNN they had arrested the stationmaster at a train station in Larissa on Wednesday as part of a preliminary investigation. A 59-year-old man is being held in the city and is expected to appear before prosecutors, Greek police spokeswoman Constantia Dimoglidou said on Wednesday.

Passengers scrambled to escape the wreckage of the collision as pictures emerged showing the devastation after the crash.

“I went forward and saw the worst part of the collision. The whole train had bent 90 degrees, had fallen over the cliff and half was hanging in the air and the whole thing was on fire, a commuter told Skai TV, according to CNN affiliate CNN Greece.

“There was panic … the fire was immediate, when we turned around we were burnt, the fire was right and left,” said 28-year-old Stergios Minenis, according to Reuters.

“We just heard a bang … the (train) car started to spin, before it ended up sideways when we managed to get out,” another male passenger told Greek public broadcaster ERT.

“It was 10 nightmarish seconds of fire, you couldn’t see much from the smoke,” said another passenger.

Smoke rises from the derailed train carriages early Wednesday.

A passenger walks on the side of the road after the fatal accident in Larissa city.

The passenger train had traveled from the capital Athens to Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest city, which is known for its festivals and vibrant cultural life. The collision comes after a nationwide carnival at the weekend which ended with a public holiday on Monday.

Greek fire service spokesman Vassilis Varthakogiannis said earlier that 194 passengers had been taken safely to Thessaloniki and 20 people were transferred by bus to the city of Larissa.

At least 150 firefighters including special rescue units with 17 vehicles and 30 ambulances were involved in the rescue operation, Varthakogiannis added.

The Greek railway company, Hellenic Train, said in a press release that there was “a head-on collision between two trains: a freight train and train IC 62 that had gone from Athens to Thessaloniki.”

Rescue operations are underway and the death toll is expected to rise.

Hellenic Train, the largest Greek railway company, was acquired by Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane in 2017 and is now fully controlled by Trenitalia. The company operates both passenger and freight transport. The main line offered daily connections is Athens-Thessaloniki.

Condolences poured in from around the world, as Greek government officials declared a three-day period of mourning with flags at half-mast from Wednesday.

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