Trains collide in Greece killing 36, 66 injured



A passenger train and a cargo train collided head-on in Greece on Tuesday night, killing at least 36 people and injuring dozens as the country’s deadliest rail crash in living memory threw entire carriages off the tracks.

The death toll was expected to rise further, a fire brigade official said. Sixty-six of 85 injured were hospitalised, six of whom in intensive care, the official said.

The crash occurred as the passenger train emerged from a tunnel. Derailed carriages, badly damaged with broken windows and thick plumes of smoke, could be seen on the site.

One passenger carriage stood on its side at almost 90 degrees from the rest of the wrecked train, with other derailed carriages tilting precariously.

“There was panic … the fire was immediate, as we were turning over we were being burned, fire was right and left,” said Stergios Minenis, a 28-year-old passenger who jumped to safety from the wreckage.

A passenger who escaped from the fifth carriage told Skai TV: “Windows were being smashed and people were screaming … One of the windows caved in from the impact of iron from the other train.”

The passenger train was carrying 342 travellers and 10 crew, while two crew were on the cargo train, according to Hellenic Train data.

Many were evacuated to Thessaloniki, where one woman ran to embrace her daughter as she disembarked from a bus with other survivors.

“Mum don’t, I’m hurt,” the daughter said. Another woman, who was waiting there, said her child was not picking up the phone.

The head of emergency unit in Larissa hospital Apostolos Komnos said most of the dead were young people, in their 20s.

Many of the passengers would have been returning home after a long holiday weekend marking the beginning of Greek Orthodox lent. Thessaloniki has a large student population.

The government declared three days of national mourning, from Wednesday to Friday, with flags flying at half-mast in a tribute to the victims of the crash.

“We still don’t know the exact number of victims, we will investigate the reasons for (the crash) in full transparency,” Infrastructure and Transport minister Kostas Karamanlis, in tears, told reporters.—Reuters