Greek media have already called the accident a “national tragedy”. According to the newspaper “Efemeris ton sindakton” (“Editor’s newspaper”), this is the biggest train accident in the country’s history. The last time something similar happened in 1972, when 19 people died as a result of a train collision not far from the same Larisa.
This time the number of victims turned out to be much higher and shocked Hellas. Rescuers working at the scene of the accident already on Wednesday morning reported the discovery of at least 39 corpses in the mutilated and partially burned cars. Another 85 people were seriously injured and taken to nearby hospitals with multiple injuries. It is reported that at least 25 citizens of this number are in serious condition.
“The evacuation process is taking place under very difficult conditions due to the seriousness of the collision between the two trains,” Greek firefighters spokesman Vassilis Vatrakoyannis said.
The fateful meeting of passenger and freight trains took place about 380 kilometers north of Athens, near the small town of Tempe, which lies on the border of two regions of the country – Thessaly and Macedonia. In total, there were 350 people on the fatally injured and derailed train. According to the Kathimerini newspaper, the impact was so powerful that many passengers were thrown from the cars through broken windows. Fragments of the first carriages of the destroyed trains were thrown up to 100 meters from the tracks. Judging by video of the scene released by the Athenian-Macedonian News Agency (AMNA), passenger and freight trains that did not share the track crashed just outside the railway tunnel.
As reported in Athens, in the near future Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will visit the crash site. With the upcoming parliamentary elections in Greece this spring, it’s safe to say that the biggest rail disaster in the country’s history will be the next subject of government blame and infighting.
“What happened is unthinkable,” said Alexis Tsipras, former Greek Prime Minister and current leader of the SYRIZA coalition. However, even during the time of Tsipras’ tenure, there was no need for urgency on the railways. So, in the spring of 2017, the Athens-Thessaloniki passenger train crashed near the town of Adendro. Then, accelerating to 114 kilometers per hour (with the allowed 60), the train derailed at the turn and killed 3 people.
The reasons for the disaster that occurred on Wednesday near Larisa with many victims have not yet been named. The police have launched an investigation and are questioning employees of Hellenic Train, the operator of the Greek railways, for a possible error on the part of dispatchers or drivers. Hellenic Train itself, just in case, canceled the movement of trains in 14 directions.
It should be noted that in the fall of 2017, the Italian company Ferrovie dello Stato (FS Group), which manages railways in several EU countries, took control of the seriously outdated and chronically damaged railway infrastructure. underfunded in Greece. It is curious that at that time the Russian RZD was also considering its participation in the tender for the privatization of Greek railway assets, which later abandoned such plans. The Italians, who won the tender, promised to invest at least 500 million euros in the modernization of the railways in Greece. Judging by the March 1 accident near Larisa, FS Group’s investment plans did not materialize or did little to improve rail safety in Hellas.
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