Irish Daily Mail
Greece mourns as horror rail crash kills 38
AT LEAST 38 people were killed when a passenger train collided with an oncoming freight train in northern Greece.
Fire service officials said 85 were injured when multiple train carriages derailed and at least three caught on fire after the crash just before midnight on Tuesday near Tempe – 380 kilometres north of Athens.
Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who visited the scene of the crash, said: ‘Everything shows that the drama was, sadly, mainly due to a tragic human error.’
Police said the 59-year-old station master in the city of Larissa has been arrested following the crash. Another two people have been detained for questioning. Many of the victims were students returning from a carnival.
Rescue crews used floodlights as they searched the twisted, smoking wreckage for survivors. Several passengers were thrown through the carriage windows on impact.
Vassilis Polyzos, one of the first residents on the scene, said: ‘The trains were completely destroyed. People, naturally, were scared – very scared. They were looking around, searching; they didn’t know where they were.’ Officials said a fire in one of the carriages reached a temperature of 1,300C. Rail operator Hellenic Train said the northbound passenger train, travelling from Athens to Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest city, had about 350 passengers on board.
Greek transport minister Kostas Karamanlis resigned following the crash, saying he felt it was his ‘duty’ to step down ‘as a basic indication of respect for the memory of the people who died so unfairly’.
The trains crashed just before the Vale of Tempe, a gorge that separates the regions of Thessaly and Macedonia.
Costas Agorastos, the regional governor of the Thessaly area, told Greece’s Skai television the two trains crashed head on at high speed.
‘Carriage one and two no longer exist, and the third has derailed,’ he said.
A teenage survivor who did not give his name told reporters that just before the crash he felt a strong braking and saw sparks – and then there was a sudden stop.
‘Our carriage didn’t derail, but the ones in front did and were smashed,’ he said, visibly shaken from the incident.