Imperial Valley Press
Death toll keeps rising in Greece’s deadliest train crash
TEMPE, Greece (AP) — Rescuers searched for survivors Wednesday in the mangled, burned-out wreckage of two trains that slammed into each other in northern Greece, killing at least 43 people and crumpling carriages into twisted steel knots in the country’s deadliest rail crash on record.
The impact just before midnight Tuesday threw some passengers into ceilings and out the windows.
“My head hit the roof of the carriage with the jolt,” Stefanos Gogakos, who was in a rear car, told state broadcaster ERT. He said windows shattered, showering riders with glass.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis called the collision of the passenger train and a freight train “a horrific rail accident without precedent in our country,” and pledged a full, independent investigation.
He said it appears the crash was “mainly due to a tragic human error.”
The train from Athens to Thessaloniki was carrying 350 passengers, many of them students returning from raucous Carnival celebrations. 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 380 kilometers (235 miles) north of Athens.
STATIONMASTER ARRESTED; MINISTER RESIGNS
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.”
But, he added, “When something this tragic happens it’s impossible to continue as if nothing has happened.”
WRECKAGE MAKES RESCUE EFFORTS DIFFICULT
On Wednesday, rescuers turned to cranes and other heavy machinery to start moving large pieces of the trains, revealing more bodies and dismembered remains.
Larissa’s chief coroner, Roubini Leondari, said so far 43 bodies had been brought to her for examination, and would require DNA identification as they were largely disfigured.