Daily Local News (West Chester, PA)

Nation’s worst-ever rail crash kills dozens

- By Costas Kantouris and Nicholas Paphitis

>> Rescuers searched for survivors Wednesday in the mangled, burned-out cars of two trains that slammed into each other in northern Greece, killing at least 38 people and crumpling carriages into twisted steel knots in the country’s worstever rail crash.

The impact just before midnight Tuesday threw some passengers into ceilings and out the windows as their train smashed headon into a freight train. Emergency workers found several bodies 100 to 130 feet away from the cars, according to state broadcaste­r ERT, which said the passenger train was traveling at 87 mph.

“The glass in the windows shattered and fell on top of us,” Stefanos Gogakos, who was riding in a rear carriage, told ERT. “My head hit the roof of the carriage with the jolt.”

The train from Athens to Thessaloni­ki was carrying 350 passengers, many of them students returning from raucous Carnival celebratio­ns. It was not immediatel­y clear what caused the collision.

While the track is double, both trains were traveling in opposite directions on the same line near the Vale of Tempe, a river valley about 235 miles north of Athens.

Authoritie­s arrested the stationmas­ter at the train’s last stop, in the city of Larissa. They did not release the man’s name or the reason for the arrest, but the stationmas­ter is responsibl­e for rail traffic on that stretch of the tracks.

Transporta­tion Minister Kostas Karamanlis resigned, saying he was stepping down “as a basic indication of respect for the memory of the people who died so unfairly.”

Karamanlis said he had made “every effort” to improve a railway system that had been “in a state that doesn’t befit the 21st century.”

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