Greece train crash: Protests erupt in Athens after deadly collision

(CNN) Demonstrators thronged the streets Greece After a Face-to-face confrontation Dozens were killed and many injured between two trains, amid anger over the country’s poor record on railway safety.

At least 46 people were killed and scores injured when a passenger train carrying more than 350 passengers collided with a freight train on Tuesday evening at Tempi, near the town of Larissa, in the Greek capital Athens. The death toll is expected to rise.

Greece’s transport minister resigned in the wake of the tragedy, with rail workers’ unions on strike, accusing the government of “disrespect” in the sector.

Another 52 people are hospitalized as a result of the crash, which left overturned vehicles and charred debris in its wake. State-owned public broadcaster ERT said on Thursday that six of the injured were in critical condition and were being treated for head injuries and severe burns.

A local hospital told ERT that most of the passengers involved in the accident were youths. The accident occurred after a week’s vacation.

Greek officials said the process of identifying the dead was underway, with rescue efforts involving firefighters and ambulance crews centered on the first carriages of the passenger train.

Relatives and friends of some of the missing passengers have posted photos of themselves on social media in an appeal for information about their loved ones, CNN affiliate Skai TV reported.

Separately, a relative said his father and brother, who were traveling on the train, are still missing, according to Skai TV. “My brother was 15. He had his life ahead of him. Nobody said anything about it.”

The protests targeted the offices of Hellenic Rail, the Greek railway company, in Athens
An aerial drone photo taken Wednesday shows emergency crews searching the wreckage of the crash, which killed dozens and injured scores more.
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‘Pain turned to anger’

Compared to other countries in Europe, Greece has the weakest record on rail passenger safety, recording the highest railway fatality rate per million train kilometers from 2018 to 2020 among 28 countries on the continent, according to a 2022 report by the European Union Agency for Railways.

In an extraordinary meeting, the Greek Federation of Railway Workers unanimously decided to launch a 24-hour strike on Thursday. This highlights poor working conditions and chronic staff shortages.

“More permanent staff, better training and importantly implementation of modern safety systems are permanently trashed,” it said, accusing the central government of “disrespect” towards the railways for causing the tragic accident.

Separately, another 24-hour strike was announced by Greek metro workers, who said in a statement: “There are no words to describe such sadness.”

Greek Transport Minister Kostas Karamanlis stepped down on Wednesday, saying the railway system the government inherited was “not up to 21st century standards”.

In a televised address after visiting the crash site, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the crash was “mainly” caused by “tragic human error”.

He said that the resignation of the Minister of Transport was honorable and that the heads of the Hellenic Railways Organization and its subsidiary ERGOSE had also submitted their resignations.

Protesters clashed with riot police on the streets of Athens on Wednesday after dozens were killed and many injured in clashes on Tuesday.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis visited the site of the incident in Tempe on Wednesday and blamed “tragic human error” for the crash.
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A railway station manager in the city of Larissa was arrested in connection with the collision as part of an investigation into the accident.

The Larissa police department said the 59-year-old man was charged with negligence causing mass death and negligence causing grievous bodily harm.

According to ERT the station manager admitted “mistake” when questioned about his role in the conflict.

Condolences poured in from around the world as Greece observed three days of mourning.

Britain’s King Charles III said in a statement that he and his wife Camilla, the Queen Consort, were “deeply shocked and deeply saddened by the news of the horrific accident”.

French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted: “My thoughts go out to the families of the victims of last night’s terrible accident near Larissa. France stands with the Greeks.”

CNN’s Heather Chen, Mohammad Tawfiq, Jennifer Hauser and Max Foster contributed reporting.

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