At Tempe, not far from Larissa’s major city, a head-on collision involving passenger and cargo trains occurred.
The number of fatalities from the crash of two trains in central Greece has increased, with authorities reporting that at least 36 people have died, scores have been hurt, and several of the injured are in serious condition.
More than 10 hours after the disaster, rescuers were stepping up their search for survivors amid the still-smoking debris. The Greek fire service reported that 66 of the estimated 85 injured victims had been transferred to hospitals in neighboring Larissa. Six people are receiving intensive care.
Yiannis Oikonomou, a representative for the government, told reporters, “It’s an unbelievable tragedy.” “Our sympathies are with the families of the fatalities, the missing, and the injured,” the statement reads.
Two trains collided head-on outside the town of Tempe on Tuesday just before midnight: a passenger train traveling from Athens to the northern city of Thessaloniki and a cargo train traveling from Thessaloniki to Larissa. Four hours earlier, the train left the Greek capital with 342 passengers and 10 employees on board.
Several deaths were identified as being students who were seated in the first two carriages, which took the brunt of the collision’s energy and were “nearly completely destroyed.” The canteen for the train was located in the second compartment.
35 bodies are currently in the morgue while other bodies are still being transferred, according to Roubini Leontari, chief coroner at Larissa’s regional hospital.
She claimed that several of the remains were completely burned beyond recognition and that most of them belonged to children.
A request for blood donors was made by the hospital around mid-morning on Wednesday. According to Oikonomou, the major priority for emergency personnel is to locate any suspected trapped individuals beneath the twisted wreckage. The setting also had professionals in psychological assistance.
The collision was described as the worst railway catastrophe in recent memory in Greece, with “human error” being initially blamed for what happened. Before colliding head-on, it’s estimated that the two trains traveled on the same track for 2 to 3 kilometers.
According to the public television ERT, the stationmaster in charge of the railway at Larissa had been taken into custody.
Huge cranes were seen lifting pieces of the crumpled, burnt-out carriages on television, where temperatures there had shot up significantly as a result of the vehicles derailing and catching fire.
The National Center of Emergency Care’s employees’ president, Giorgos Mathiopoulos, stated in a statement to ERT: “The hard work begins now. These times are quite challenging.
Survivors described horrible scenes. Many people had been flung through the windows of the railway carriages on contact; others had fought to extricate themselves when the train folded, slamming into a field alongside the rails near a gorge some 235 miles (380km) north of Athens. When the crash occurred, it had just exited a tunnel.
“We find ourselves in the midst of a needless calamity,” Katerina Sakellaropoulou, Greece’s president, said in a statement. “Most of us are mourning young people.”
She said that she will cancel an official visit to Moldova in order to return to Greece, where a three-day mourning period had been designated. The European Commission’s Greek vice-president, Margaritis Schinas, stated flags on all EU buildings would be flown at half-mast “in honour of the victims of the tragedy”.
“A lot of passengers didn’t comprehend what exactly had happened because they were asleep,” one survivor told the state news agency, ANA-MPA. “I was sleeping as well, and the sudden cracking jolted [me awake]. When we realized what had happened, we tried to get out of the wagons, and when we did, we saw the commotion.” Residents who raced to the scene described scenes of devastation. “There were several large pieces of steel,” said Vassilis Polyzos, one of the first to arrive at the scene. “The trains, both passenger and cargo, were entirely wrecked.”
While visiting the site of the disaster, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis stated that the most pressing task was not just to “heal the wounded and identify remains,” but also to determine how the catastrophe occurred. “There is only one thing I can guarantee: we will determine the reason of the catastrophe, and we will do everything in our power to ensure that anything like this never happens again,” he told reporters.
Many Legislators were on their way to Tempe, including Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras. Numerous people were surprised as to how such a massive transportation disaster could happen in today’s world. Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane, an Italian firm, operates 342 passenger and commercial routes throughout Greece every day. Railway services around the country have been confirmed to be suspended.
The authorities are looking into what caused the collision. According to the investigation’s public prosecutor, Stamatis Daskopolopoulos, witness testimony has begun.