Greece train accident: death toll rises to 57, rescue operations underway

Emergency crews on Thursday dug through the damaged remains of a passenger train “centimeter by centimeter” in the search for at least 57 people killed in a head-on collision in northern Greece. Rail workers have gone on strike to protest years of under-funding, which they say has left the country’s rail system in a perilous state. Greece

A passenger train and a goods train collided with each other late on Tuesday, trapping the vehicles in twisted steel bales and forcing people to break windows to escape. It was the country’s deadliest accident to date, and 48 people remained hospitalised, most of them in the central Greek city of Larissa. Six of them were in intensive care.

Fire service spokesman Yiannis Artopios said the grim recovery effort was progressing “centimeter by centimeter”.

“We can see that there (bodies) are more people. Unfortunately, they are in a very bad condition due to the collision.

Workers say train system is unsafe

The cause of the accident is still unclear. The Larissa station manager was arrested on Wednesday following the collision and has been charged with several counts of negligence and causing grievous bodily harm through negligence, as a judicial inquiry tries to establish whether the two trains collided. Why were they running in opposite directions on the same track?

Meanwhile, railway workers’ unions called for a strike in Athens, halting national rail services and the metro. They are protesting working conditions and what they describe as a dangerous failure to modernize the Greek rail system due to a lack of public investment during a deep financial crisis that spanned the past decade and brought Greece to the brink of bankruptcy. Made it stand

Read here: ‘Tragic human error’ caused Greece’s worst train accident: PM

The Federation of Rail Workers of Greece said in a statement, “Unfortunately, our long-standing demands for the recruitment of full-time staff, better training and, above all, the implementation of up-to-date safety systems, have always been trashed.” placed in the basket.” Thursday strike.

Transport Minister Kostas Karamanlis resigned after the accident, with his replacement tasked with setting up an independent investigation looking into the cause of the accident.

“Responsibility will be assigned,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in a televised address late on Wednesday after visiting the crash site.

“We will work so that the words ‘never again’ are not an empty pledge,” he said. “I promise you.”

Supporters of the strike plan to hold a protest in central Athens on Thursday.

Crash Survivor Describes the Fiery Escape

More than 300 people were on board the passenger train, many of them students returning from the holiday weekend and the annual carnival celebrations around Greece.

Andreas Elikaniotis, a 20-year-old survivor of the crash, described how he and fellow students escaped from the mangled train when it caught fire, smashing the windows and throwing items on the ground outside to use as a makeshift landing pad.

“It was like falling into a deep ditch,” Elikaniotis, who suffered a knee injury, told reporters from his hospital bed in Larissa.

“The lights went out. … The smoke was suffocating inside the rail car but also outside,” Elikaniotis said.

He added that he was “one of the few people who was not seriously injured.”

“My friends and I helped people out.”

“50 Death Tickets”

Relatives of the victims and still-missing passengers lashed out at government officials and Italian-owned private rail operator Hellenic Trains.

Dimitris Bournazis, whose father and 15-year-old brother remain untraceable, said phone calls to the rail company have been fruitless.

“I have been trying to get in touch with the company since yesterday afternoon to find out which seat my father is occupying,” he said. “Nobody called me back.”

He has lost hope of seeing any of his loved ones alive again.

“I have lost my brother, my father. He can’t change, I know that,” he said. “But the point is, we’re not going to mourn the victims again. He bought 50 death tickets.

Bournazis said that responsibility for the accident must go well beyond the station master.

“We cannot put all the blame on one person for one mistake,” he said.

Zelensky and Turkey expressed condolences

Larissa residents queued to give blood, many waiting in heavy rain for more than an hour, while the city’s hotel association called on the city’s relatives of crash victims to provide DNA samples to help police forensics. Free accommodation was provided to the travelers. Experts identify the bodies. Officials said nine bodies have been identified so far through genetic matching.

In the wake of the crash, Pope Francis and European leaders sent messages of sympathy. Among them was Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, whose country is still recovering from last month’s devastating earthquakes. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky sent a message in Greek, which read, “The people of Ukraine share the pain of the families of the victims. We wish all the injured a speedy recovery.”

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