Anger in Greece over poor railway security grew on Thursday because the demise toll from one of many nation’s worst practice crashes lately reached 57.
Demonstrators poured onto the streets after the head-on collision between a passenger practice carrying greater than 350 individuals and a freight practice on Tuesday night in Tempi, close to town of Larissa.
Protesters clashed with police within the capital Athens, the nation’s transport minister resigned within the wake of the tragedy and a rail staff’ union is occurring strike, accusing the federal government of “disrespect” within the sector.
One other 48 individuals stay in hospital on account of the crash, which left toppled carriages and scorched particles in its wake. Six of the injured being handled are in vital situation attributable to head wounds and critical burns, public broadcaster ERT reported Thursday.
After a practice station supervisor in Larissa was arrested in connection to the collision, Greek authorities on Thursday additionally launched putting dispatch audio recordings that present one of many practice drivers receiving directions to disregard a purple gentle.
“Proceed by purple site visitors gentle exit till site visitors gentle entry of Neon Poron,” the station grasp is heard saying.
“Vasilis, am I good to go?” the practice driver responds, to which the practice grasp says “Go, go.”
In a second dialog, the station grasp will be heard ordering an worker to maintain one of many trains on the identical observe.
“Shall I flip it now?” the worker asks.
“No, no, as a result of 1564 is on this route,” the station grasp says.
The station grasp has been charged with mass deaths by negligence and inflicting grievous bodily hurt by negligence. Upon arrest he blamed the collision on a technical fault, although later admitted to “making a mistake.”
Protesters gathered exterior the central Athens headquarters of Greek rail firm Hellenic Practice once more on Thursday night in an indication organized by pupil and employee unions.
Police already had a presence exterior the Hellenic Practice headquarters earlier than the demonstrators arrived. The protest was peaceable, following unrest on Wednesday through which demonstrators clashed with police.
A lot of the passengers concerned within the accident had been younger, a neighborhood hospital advised ERT. The accident got here quickly after a vacation weekend.
Search and rescue operations will proceed on Thursday and Friday on the website of the crash, in accordance with the Fireplace Service.
In the meantime, family of these lacking are nonetheless awaiting information concerning their family members because the identification course of continues at Larissa Normal Hospital.
Talking earlier to Greek media, Dimitris Bournazis, who’s attempting to get information about his father and brother, stated nobody has given him any info. Bournazis stated he was attempting to contact the corporate to seek out out the place on the practice his family had been sitting on the time of the crash. He stated he referred to as the workplaces of Hellenic Practice 3 times however nobody has referred to as him again.
“The prime minister and the well being minister got here right here yesterday. Why? To do what? To clarify what? The place are they in the present day?” Bournazis advised Greek broadcaster SKAI, including that “nobody has given us any info, nobody is aware of how many individuals actually had been inside.”
“We can not solely blame one particular person for this due to a mistake. The place is everybody else now? All of them await the election to talk,” he stated.
Chatting with ERT, passenger Andreas Alikaniotis, who was within the second carriage in the course of the collision, described the moments following the crash.
“What we did was to interrupt the glass, which was already cracked, and to throw the bags exterior the carriage, so we will land someplace mushy,” he advised ERT, describing how he helped round 10 individuals escape.
“We jumped 3 to 4 meters,” he added, “first the extra significantly injured after which us with lighter accidents”
Alikaniotis added that he remembers pulling up two or three ladies and serving to them get to the window to leap. “There was panic,” he added.
Greece has a weak document of railway passenger security in contrast with different international locations in Europe, recording the best railway fatality fee per million practice kilometers from 2018 to 2020 amongst 28 nations on the continent, in accordance with a 2022 report from the European Union Company for Railways.
In a rare assembly, the Greek federation of rail staff determined unanimously to launch the 24-hour strike on Thursday to spotlight poor working circumstances and persistent understaffing.
It accused the federal authorities of “disrespect” in direction of railways for inflicting the crash, saying “extra everlasting employees, higher coaching and primarily the implementation of contemporary safety methods, are completely thrown within the bin.”
Individually, one other 24-hour strike was introduced by Greek metro staff, who stated in a press release: “There aren’t any phrases to explain such tragedy.”
Greek transport minister Kostas Karamanlis stated the railway system the federal government inherited was “less than twenty first century requirements” as he stepped down from his position Wednesday.
In a televised tackle after visiting the crash website, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis stated the collision was “primarily” due “to tragic human error.”
He stated the transport minister’s determination to resign was honorable, and added that the heads of Hellenic Railways Group and its subsidiary ERGOSE have additionally submitted their resignations.
Condolences have poured in from the world over, whereas a three-day interval of mourning is underneath means in Greece.
Britain’s King Charles stated in a press release that he and his spouse Camilla, Queen Consort, have been “most shocked and profoundly saddened by the information of the dreadful accident.”
French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted: “My ideas exit to the households of the victims of the horrible accident that befell final night time close to Larissa. France stands alongside the Greeks.”