“The glass within the home windows shattered and fell on prime of us,” Stefanos Gogakos, who was driving in a rear carriage, instructed state broadcaster ERT. “My head hit the roof of the carriage with the jolt.”
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis known as the crash “a horrific rail accident with out precedent in our nation,” and pledged a full, unbiased investigation.
The prepare from Athens to Thessaloniki was carrying 350 passengers, lots of them college students coming back from raucous Carnival celebrations. It was not instantly clear what precipitated the collision. Whereas the monitor is double, each trains had been touring in reverse instructions on the identical line close to the Vale of Tempe, a river valley about 380 kilometers (235 miles) north of Athens.
STATIONMASTER ARRESTED; MINISTER RESIGNS
Authorities arrested the stationmaster on the prepare’s final cease, within the metropolis of Larissa. They didn’t launch the person’s title or the explanation for the arrest, however the stationmaster is liable for rail site visitors on that stretch of the tracks.
Transportation Minister Kostas Karamanlis resigned, saying he was stepping down “as a primary indication of respect for the reminiscence of the individuals who died so unfairly.”
Karamanlis stated he had made “each effort” to enhance a railway system that had been “in a state that doesn’t befit the twenty first century.”
However, he added, “When one thing this tragic occurs it’s unattainable to proceed as if nothing has occurred.”
WRECKAGE MAKES RESCUE EFFORTS DIFFICULT
On Wednesday, rescuers turned to cranes and different heavy equipment to begin shifting massive items of the trains, revealing extra our bodies and dismembered stays. Many had been so badly disfigured that they required DNA identification.
“There have been many large items of metal,” stated Vassilis Polyzos, an area resident who stated he was one of many first folks on the scene. “The trains had been utterly destroyed, each passenger and freight prepare.”
Rescuer Lazaros Sarianidis instructed ERT that crews had been “very fastidiously” making an attempt to disentangle metal, sheet metallic and different materials that was twisted collectively by the crash. “It can take a very long time,” stated Sarianidis.
Greece’s firefighting service stated 57 folks remained hospitalized late Wednesday, together with six in intensive care. Greater than 15 others had been discharged after receiving preliminary therapy.
Greater than 200 individuals who had been unhurt or suffered minor accidents had been taken by bus to Thessaloniki, 130 kilometers (80 miles) to the north. Police took their names as they arrived, in an effort to trace anybody who could also be lacking.
Eight rail workers had been amongst these killed within the crash, together with the 2 drivers of the freight prepare and the 2 drivers of the passenger prepare, in response to Greek Railroad Employees Union President Yannis Nitsas.
Emergency staff discovered a number of our bodies dozens of meters (ft) away from the automobiles, ERT reported.
PASSENGERS SAY TRAIN CRASH WAS LIKE AN EXPLOSION
A teenage survivor who didn’t give his title to reporters stated that simply earlier than the crash he felt sudden braking and noticed sparks — after which there was a sudden cease.
“Our carriage didn’t derail, however the ones in entrance did and had been smashed,” he stated, visibly shaken. He used a bag to interrupt the window of his automotive, the fourth, and escape.
Gogakos stated the crash felt like an explosion, and a few smoke entered the carriage. He stated some passengers escaped by home windows however that after a couple of minutes, crew members had been capable of open the doorways and let folks out.
A number of automobiles derailed and at the least one burst into flames.
“Temperatures reached 1,300 levels Celsius (2,372 Fahrenheit), which makes it much more troublesome to establish the individuals who had been in it,” hearth service spokesperson Vassilis Varthakoyiannis stated.
A person who was making an attempt to determine the destiny of his daughter, who was on the prepare, saying he had a harrowing cellphone dialog together with her earlier than she was reduce off.
“She instructed me ‘we’re on hearth. … My hair is burning,’” he instructed ERT, with out giving his title.
GREECE GOES FROM CARNIVAL TO MOURNING
Most of the passengers had been college students returning to Thessaloniki from Carnival, however officers stated however no detailed passenger listing was out there. This 12 months was the primary time the pageant, which precedes Lent, was celebrated in full because the begin of the pandemic in 2020.
The federal government declared three days of nationwide mourning from Wednesday, whereas flags flew at half-staff exterior all European Fee buildings in Brussels.
Visiting the accident scene, Prime Minister Mitsotakis stated the federal government should assist the injured get better and establish the lifeless.
“I can assure one factor: We are going to discover out the causes of this tragedy and we’ll do all that’s in our energy in order that one thing like this by no means occurs once more,” Mitsotakis stated.
Tuesday’s was Greece’s worst rail crash since 1968, when 34 folks had been killed in a crash within the southern Peloponnese area.
Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou broke off an official go to to Moldova to go to the scene, laying flowers beside the wreckage.
Pope Francis supplied his condolences to the households of the lifeless, in a message despatched to the president of the Greek bishops convention on his behalf by the Vatican’s secretary of state,
The pontiff “sends the peace of mind of his prayers to everybody affected by this tragedy,” the message stated.
Paphitis reported from Athens, Greece. Derek Gatopoulos in Athens and Patrick Quinn and David Rising in Bangkok contributed to this story.
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