Thirty-two people died and 85 were injured on Tuesday evening in Greece in a collision between a freight convoy and a passenger train traveling between Athens and Thessaloniki, firefighters announced on Wednesday March 1.
“Thirty-two passengers were found dead,” said Vassilis Vathrakogiannis, the spokesman for the Greek firefighters during a brief press briefing, adding that the rescue operation was still in progress. “Of the 85 people injured, 53 people remain hospitalized,” he added.
Several cars derailed
No details have been provided at this stage as to why the two trains had collided. But according to the Greek media, it is the “worst train accident that Greece has ever known”.
Several carriages derailed minutes before midnight on Tuesday north of the central city of Larissa in the Tempe Valley after a freight train collided with another convoy carrying 350 passengers, this report reported. spokesperson. The passenger train traveled between Athens and Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest city in the north of the country, while the freight train traveled the opposite route.
According to the mayor of Tempé, Yorgos Manolis, on the public broadcaster ERT, many students were on board the train and were returning to Thessaloniki after a long weekend due to a public holiday in Greece.
Some 150 firefighters, as well as 40 ambulances, were mobilized according to Greek relief. Cranes and mechanics were also deployed to try to clear the debris and lift the overturned wagons.
One of the wagons, white with a blue and red stripe, was completely crushed, making the intervention of rescuers particularly difficult, while others were partly destroyed. Heavy smoke and flames were emerging from other cars.
“Most of the passengers have been brought to safety,” said the fire department spokesperson. “The operation to free trapped people is underway and is taking place in difficult conditions, due to the seriousness of the collision between the two trains,” he also said. Some “194 people were transferred by bus to Thessaloniki among them 26 were transported to hospitals”, specified the spokesperson for the fire brigade.
A government crisis meeting was organised. Health Minister Thanos Plevris visited the scene while Interior Minister Takis Theodorikakos oversees the situation from the crisis management center with police and fire officials.
The two hospitals in the Larissa region have been requisitioned to accommodate the many injured, according to Greek firefighters. The military hospitals in Thessaloniki and Athens are also “on the alert” in case of need, they stressed.