Human error to blame for deadly train crash, says Greek PM after 43 people are killed, at least 85 are injured in head-on crash between two trains – Local stationmaster charged with manslaughter
Several dozen people are killed and at least 85 are injured in horrific head-on crash between two trains in Tempe, near Larissa, Greece on Tuesday night
At least 43 people killed after a passenger train and freight train collided in Greece, in one of the country’s worst rail accidents
A passenger train suffered a head-on collision with a cargo train near Larissa
More than two dozen people were confirmed dead at the horror scene in Greece
Human error to blame for deadly train crash, says Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis
Local stationmaster has been charged with manslaughter
Transport minister Kostas Karamanlis takes responsibility, resigns, saying it’s impossible to continue after something so tragic
At least 43 people have died after a passenger train and freight train collided close to the city of Larissa in central Greece, about 125 miles north of the capital Athens on Tuesday night
The first four carriages of the passenger train were derailed, and the first two caught fire and were “almost completely destroyed”
In an address to the nation, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said “tragic human error” appeared to be the cause of the crash, and called for an independent investigation. “Justice will do its job,” he said.
The Greek transport minister, Kostas Karamanlis, has resigned, saying in a statement: “When something so tragic happens, it is impossible to continue and pretend like it didn’t happen”Rescuers are continuing to search for survivors at the scene
Several hundred members of left-wing and student groups took part in a demonstration in Athens on Wednesday evening to protest the train deaths.
The local station master was arrested after two trains traveling on the same track collided head-on killing at least 38 people and injuring 85 late on Tuesday night in the ‘worst train accident that Greece has ever known’.
The 59-year-old stationmaster has been charged with manslaughter.
The collision between a freight and passenger train occurred near Tempe, some 125 miles north of Athens, and resulted in the derailment of several train cars late Tuesday night .
A passenger train traveling from Athens to the northern city of Thessaloniki, and a cargo train from Thessaloniki to Larissa, crashed into each other in Tempe – outside the city of Larissa in central Greece – the governor of the Thessaly region said.
As crane operator, firefighters and rescuers work the scene of the deadly train crash on Wednesday morning. As dawn broke, the full scale of the devastation became clear.
‘The collision was very strong,’ governor Konstantinos Agorastos told SKAI TV, adding the first four carriages of the passenger train had derailed, while the first two carriages were ‘almost completely destroyed’.
‘It was a very powerful collision. This is a terrible night… It’s hard to describe the scene,’ he said.
|’The front section of the train was smashed… We’re getting cranes to come in and special lifting equipment clear the debris and lift the rail cars. There’s debris flung all around the crash site.’
No official cause has been given as of yet. One of the questions investigators need to answer is why the two trains were, according to Agorastos, running on the same track when they crashed.
The toll was expected to rise as cranes and rescuers worked through the debris.
Of the people injured, 66 were in hospital and six were in intensive care.
Greek media reported about 350 people were traveling on the passenger train, which departed Athens around 7.30 pm local time.
As dawn broke, It was not clear how many were still unaccounted for. Agorastos said about 250 passengers were evacuated safely to Thessaloniki on buses.
Greek media said it had been carrying many students returning to Thessaloniki after a long holiday weekend after celebrating Carnival over the long weekend.
Broadcaster SKAI showed footage of derailed carriages, badly damaged with broken windows and thick plumes of smoke, as well as debris strewn across the road.
Rescuers wearing head lamps worked in thick smoke, pulling pieces of mangled metal from the carriages to search for trapped people.
Others scoured the field with flashlights and checked underneath the wreckage. Several of the dead are believed to have been found in the restaurant area near the front of the passenger train.
‘There was panic in the carriage, people were screaming,’ a young man who was evacuated to a nearby bridge told SKAI TV.
‘It was like an earthquake,’ Angelos Tsiamouras, another passenger, told ERT.
Another exhausted rescuer emerging from the wreckage where he and his team were working said: ‘I’ve never seen anything like this in my entire life. It’s tragic. Five hours later, we are finding bodies.’
Photographs taken at daybreak showed the smashed trains and one passenger carriage on its side at almost ninety degrees from the rest of the wrecked train, with other derailed carriages tilting precariously.
One train carriage was completely crushed, making the rescuers’ work particularly difficult, while smoke and flames emerged from other cars.
The crash occurred as the passenger train emerged from a tunnel.
The fire brigade said it was informed of the accident shortly before midnight on Tuesday. ‘The evacuation of passengers is underway in very difficult conditions given the severity of the collision of the two trains,’ fire brigade spokesperson Vassilis Varthakogiannis said in a televised address.
Hospital units used to treat burn victims had been alerted in the area, he said, adding that dozens of ambulances were involved in the rescue effort.
Rescuers wearing head lamps worked in thick smoke, pulling pieces of mangled sheet metal from the crashed rail cars to search for trapped people.
Government officials said the army has been contacted to assist in the rescue.
Rail operator Hellenic Train said the northbound passenger train from Athens to the northern city of Thessaloniki had about 350 passengers on board when the collision occurred.
Passengers who received minor injuries or were unharmed were transported by bus to Thessaloniki, 80 miles north of the incident.
One passenger named Lazos told the newspaper Protothema that the experience had been ‘very shocking’. ‘I wasn’t hurt, but I was stained with blood from other people who were injured near me,’ he said.
On the local media site Onlarissa, a young woman said through tears that the train ‘was stopped for a few minutes when we heard a deafening noise’.
Another shaken passenger told Skai television that ‘the windows suddenly exploded. People were screaming and were afraid’.
‘Fortunately, we were able to open the doors and escape fairly quickly. In other wagons, they did not manage to get out, and one wagon even caught fire.’
Stergios Minenis, a 28-year-old passenger who jumped to safety from the wreckage, said: ‘We heard a big bang, (it was) 10 nightmarish seconds.
‘We were turning over in the wagon until we fell on our sides… then there was panic, cables (everywhere) fire, the fire was immediate, as we were turning over we were being burned, fire was right and left.’
An emergency government meeting was organized after the crash, and Greek health minister Thanos Plevris went to the scene while interior minister Takis Theodorikakos supervised the response from a crisis management center.
The search will continue overnight and there are currently 72 firefighters taking part, alongside five specialist disaster response teams, the Greek fire service has said.
Cranes are still working to move carriages to aid the search, but the extreme heat caused by the fire in one carriage has made the search and identification process much harder.
After the fire service update, police said 17 DNA samples have been taken from bodies of the victims so far, and 23 samples from relatives of the passengers, which are being used to help identify missing people from the crash.
More than 70 officers have been deployed to the scene to help with evidence gathering, with material so far collected from the local police office in Larissa, the scene of the accident and other “points of interest”, they said.
Police have also been collecting the personal belongings and luggage of the passengers from the scene of the accident.
Greek media are calling the crash the ‘worst train accident that Greece has ever known’. In 1972, 19 people were killed when two trains collided head on outside Larissa.
Greece’s ageing railway system is in need of modernizing, with many trains traveling on single tracks and signalling and automatic control systems still to be installed in many areas.
Greece sold railway operator TRAINOSE to Italy’s Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane in 2017 as part of its international bailout program, expecting hundreds of millions of euros to be invested in rail infrastructure in the coming years.
According to the Italian company’s website it is the main provider of rail transport for passengers and freight in Greece and runs 342 passenger and commercial routes a day.
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