According to the state broadcaster, the death toll from the collision of two trains in central Greece has risen to at least 40 people, with many others missing and several of the wounded remaining in critical condition.
On Wednesday, the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT) reported that 50-60 people were still unaccounted for in the town of Tempe after the crash.
Following a visit to Tempe, Greek transport minister Kostas Karamanlis announced his resignation, stating that it was the least he could do to honor the memory of the victims and expressing his frustration with the state’s long-standing failures.
Karamanlis bluntly stated that Greece’s railways belonged to another era, acknowledging that the country’s railway system was not in keeping with the 21st century.
He explained that while his administration had made every effort to improve the situation, these efforts were not sufficient to prevent the accident, leaving him and the rest of the country with a heavy heart.
According to Nikos Tsikalakis, head of the Association of Rail Workers and a pointsperson, the network is severely understaffed and outdated. Despite the state voting to have 2,100 railway workers, there are only 750 serving throughout Greece. Tsikalakis believes that automation is necessary to improve the railway system.
As rescue workers continue to search for survivors in the wreckage, the Greek fire brigade has reported that 66 of the estimated 85 injured people have been taken to hospitals in nearby Larissa, with six in intensive care.
The government spokesperson, Yiannis Oikonomou, expressed condolences for the tragedy, stating that their thoughts are with the victims’ families and the injured.
The collision occurred between a passenger train travelling from Athens to Thessaloniki and a cargo train heading from Thessaloniki to Larissa. The crash happened shortly before midnight on Tuesday, outside the town of Tempe.
The passenger train, which had 342 passengers and 10 staff, had departed from the Greek capital four hours earlier. The first two carriages, which were nearly destroyed, were occupied by many students. The second carriage served as the train’s canteen.
At Larissa’s general hospital, Roubini Leontari, the chief coroner, has reported that 35 bodies are currently in the morgue, while the transfer of other bodies is ongoing. Most of the victims were young, and some were burnt beyond recognition.
The hospital has requested blood donors, and psychological support experts have been dispatched to the scene to help those affected. The top priority for emergency services is to locate people who are believed to be trapped under the debris.
The collision has been called the worst train accident in Greece’s living memory, with “human error” initially being cited as the cause. The two trains reportedly travelled on the same track for 2-3 km before the head-on collision occurred.
According to ERT, the stationmaster responsible for the railway at Larissa has been arrested.