Greece’s Tempe (AP) — Rescuers combed through the burned-out remains of two trains that collided in northern Greece, killing at least 43 people and crumpling carriages into twisted steel knots in the nation’s bloodiest rail accident, well into the night on Wednesday in search of survivors.
Tuesday night, just before midnight, some passengers were thrown out of the windows and into the ceilings.
“My head impacted the roof of the carriage with the jolt,” Stefanos Gogakos, who was in a rear car, told public radio ERT. He claimed that glass from broken windows doused the passengers.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis called the crash between the passenger train and the freight train “a tragic rail catastrophe without a precedent in our country.” He also promised a thorough and fair investigation.
He made the generalisation that it appeared the disaster was “mostly caused by a sad human error,” but he did not elaborate.
350 people were riding the train from Athens to Thessaloniki, many of them students returning from boisterous Carnival celebrations. The Vale of Tempe, a river valley about 380 kilometres (235 miles) north of Athens, is a location where both trains were moving in the opposite directions on the same line, despite the fact that the track is double.
The Minister resigns; the Stationmaster is arrested.
At the last stop of the train, in the city of Larissa, the stationmaster was taken into custody.The stationmaster is in charge of managing rail traffic on that section of tracks, albeit neither the man’s name nor the reason for the arrest were made public. He will formally be charged on Thursday when he goes before the prosecutor.
Kostas Karamanlis, the minister of transportation, announced his resignation and said he was doing it “out of basic respect for the memories of those who died so unfairly.”
In order to improve a railway system that had been “in a state that doesn’t befit the 21st century,” Karamanlis claimed to have “made every effort.”
“When something this horrible happens, though, it’s hard to carry on as if nothing has occurred,” he continued.
When left-wing protests started in Athens late on Wednesday, the union for train workers declared a 24-hour strike for Thursday.
Damage complicates rescue efforts.
When emergency workers moved large parts of the trains with cranes and other powerful tools, they found more bodies and bodies that had been badly damaged.Firefighters were going to have to work hard all night to get through the wreckage and finish the job.
Rescuer Nikos Zygouris stated, “It’s doubtful there will be survivors, but hope dies last.”
Roubini Leondari, Larissa’s chief coroner, said that 43 bodies had been brought in to be looked at. Because they were mostly deformed, they would need DNA testing to be identified.
She informed ERT that the majority of the dead were young people. They are in terrible shape.
Late on Wednesday, the Greek firefighting service reported that 57 patients, including six in intensive care, were still hospitalized. After receiving therapy, more than 15 other patients were released.
Buses were used to transport more than 200 individuals who were undamaged or had minor injuries to Thessaloniki, 130 kilometres (80 miles) to the north. As they arrived, the police took their identities in an effort to find anyone who could be missing.
The operator of all of Greece’s passenger and freight trains, including the ones that collided, Hellenic Train, extended its “heartfelt sympathies” to the families of the deceased. The state railways of Italy own the business.
According to Yannis Nitsas, president of the Greek Railroad Workers Union, eight rail workers—two drivers of the freight train and two drivers of the passenger train—died in the collision.
The union launched the single-day strike to express its outrage at what it claimed was ongoing neglect on the part of successive governments of Greece’s railway system.
A statement from the company added, “Unfortunately, our long-standing demands for employee hirings, improved training, and most all, the usage of modern safety technology, inevitably end up in the wastepaper basket.According to passengers, the train crash was like an explosion.
An unidentified teen survivor claimed that shortly prior to the collision, there was a sudden stop followed by sparks and sudden braking.
He responded, clearly startled: “Our carriage didn’t derail, but the ones in front did and were shattered. He managed to escape by smashing the fourth car’s window with a bag.
According to Gogakos, the collision felt like an explosion, and smoke got inside the carriage. Some passengers, according to him, managed to escape through the windows, but after a short period of time, the staff was able to unlock the doors and allow people to leave.
At least one car caught fire as several others came to a stop.
Temperatures “reached 1,300 degrees Celsius (2,372 degrees Fahrenheit), which makes it much more impossible to identify the people who were in it,” according to Vassilis Varthakoyiannis, a spokesman for the fire department.
Trying to find out what had happened to his daughter, who was on the train, the father claimed he had a terrifying phone discussion with her just before she was disconnected.
He told ERT, without identifying himself, “She informed me, ‘We’re on fire.’ My hair is burning.
Although officials claimed that there was no comprehensive passenger list available, many of the passengers were students returning to Thessaloniki from Carnival. Since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, the celebration that precedes Lent has not been fully observed until this year.
Flags were lowered to half-staff in front of all European Commission offices in Brussels as the government announced three days of national mourning beginning on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Mitsotakis, who visited the accident scene, stated that the government must aid in the recovery of the injured and the identification of the deceased.
One thing, Mitsotakis promised, was certain: “We will determine the causes of this catastrophe, and we will do all within our power to ensure that something similar never occurs again.
The incident on Tuesday was the deadliest rail accident in Greece since a collision in the southern Peloponnese region in 1968 that claimed 34 lives.
The president of Greece, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, took a break from her official travel to Moldova to pay a visit to the area and lay flowers by the debris.
In a letter written on his behalf to the head of the Greek bishops conference by the Vatican’s secretary of state, Pope Francis expressed his condolences to the relatives of the deceased.
Condolences flooded in from all around the world, especially from Greece’s longtime enemy and neighbour, Turkey. According to his office, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan extended sympathy and best wishes for the injured people’s quick recovery.
Notwithstanding the tense relations between the two NATO partners, Erdogan received a call from the Greek government last month after a major earthquake that claimed hundreds of lives in Turkey.
To condemn the train killings, several hundred members of left-wing organisations marched across Athens on Wednesday night. Small altercations erupted when some protestors threw stones at the riot police’s and Greece’s train operator’s offices and set fire to bins. There were no reported injuries or arrests.
Reporting from Athens, Greece, was Paphitis. This report was contributed by Derek Gatopoulos in Athens, Patrick Quinn in Bangkok, and David Rising in London.