Thursday, June 20 2024

Three-day national mourning declared in Greece after deadliest train crash

 train crash Greece
(Photo Credit: Vaggelis Kousioras/AP Photo) 
The Greek government decided today, Wednesday, to hold a three-day national mourning following the deadliest train collision in the country’s history.
 
Earlier in the day, officials said at least 36 people have been killed and 85 were injured when a passenger train carrying hundreds of people, including many university students returning home from holiday, collided at high speed with an oncoming freight train in northern Greece.
 
During the mourning period, the Greek flag will fly at half-mast in all public buildings, while all public celebrations are cancelled. 
 
The death toll from the collision of two trains in central Greece rose on Wednesday as authorities announced that at least 36 people had been killed and scores injured with several of the wounded battling for their lives.
 
As rescue workers stepped up efforts to find survivors amid the still-smoking wreckage – more than 10 hours after the crash – the Greek fire brigade said 66 of the estimated 85 people hurt in the accident had been taken to hospitals in nearby Larissa. Six are in intensive care.
 
“It’s an unspeakable tragedy,” government spokesperson Yiannis Oikonomou told reporters. “Our thoughts are with the relatives of the victims, the missing and the injured.”
 
The trains – a passenger train travelling from Athens to the northern city of Thessaloniki, and a cargo train on its way from Thessaloniki to Larissa – collided head-on outside the town of Tempe just before midnight on Tuesday. The passenger train, which was carrying 342 ticket holders and 10 staff, had set off from the Greek capital four hours earlier.
 
Many of the victims were described as students who were gathered in the first two carriages, which sustained the full force of the impact of the crash and had been “almost completely destroyed”. The second carriage served as the train’s canteen.
 
Roubini Leontari, chief coroner at Larissa’s general hospital, told local media 35 bodies “right now are in the morgue while the transfer of other bodies is continuing”.
 
Some, she said, were burned beyond recognition and most were young people.
 
Many were asking how a transport accident of such scale could occur in modern times. Rail transport in Greece is operated by the Italian group Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane, which runs 342 passenger and commercial routes a day. It was announced that train services nationwide would be suspended.
 
A police investigation had been launched into the cause of the crash. A public prosecutor, Stamatis Daskopolopoulos, who has been tasked with overseeing the inquiry, said witnesses had begun giving testimony.
 
The stationmaster has been arrested after his testimony.