Home / Headline / Passenger train slams into freight train in deadly rail crash in northern Greece

Passenger train slams into freight train in deadly rail crash in northern Greece

Two trains collided head-on in Greece, killing at least 36 people and injuring 85 late on Tuesday night, the fire brigade said, but the cause of the deadliest rail crash in Greece in decades remained unclear. 

Many passengers were university students returning home from holiday.

Deadly train collision in Greece

Officials described ‘a terrible night’ after a passenger train carrying 350 people crashed into a freight train early Wednesday in northern Greece, leaving many dead and injured. 

A passenger train carrying hundreds of people, including many university students returning home from holiday, collided at high speed with an oncoming freight train in a fiery wreck in northern Greece Tuesday night, killing at least 36 people and injuring some 85, officials said Wednesday.

Before dawn, rescuers searched through twisted, smoking wreckage for survivors. What appeared to be the third carriage lay atop the clumped remains of the first two.

Multiple cars derailed and at least three burst into flames after the collision just before midnight Tuesday near the town of Tempe as the passenger train was emerging from a highway underpass.

Rescue crews illuminated the scene with floodlights before dawn on Wednesday as they searched frantically through the twisted, smoking wreckage for survivors. After sunrise, they turned to heavy machinery that had been brought in to start moving large pieces of the trains.

Officials said many of the passengers on board the Athens to Thessaloniki train had been university students returning home after celebrating Carnival over the long weekend.

“This is a terrible tragedy that is hard to comprehend,” said Deputy Health Minister Mina Gaga. “I feel so sorry for the parents of these kids.”

Passenger train carriages are seen derailed beside a railway track in a rural setting. The first carriage is burned and lying on its side.

On Wednesday, the government declared three days of national mourning. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was to visit the scene later in the day.

Survivors said several passengers were thrown through the windows of the train cars due to the impact. They said others fought to free themselves after the passenger train buckled, slamming into a field near a gorge, about 380 kilometres north of Athens.

“There were many big pieces of steel,” said Vassilis Polyzos, a local resident who said he was one of the first people on the scene. “The trains were completely destroyed, both passenger and freight trains.”

He said dazed and disoriented people were escaping out of the train’s rear cars as he arrived.

A burned out train carriage is hoisted by a crane at a crash site as rescue workers look on.


An aerial shot shows the two derailed trains and the bright lights of emergency vehicles.

“People, naturally, were scared — very scared,” he said. “They were looking around, searching; they didn’t know where they were.”

2 trains crashed head on at high speed

The trains crashed just before the Vale of Tempe, a gorge that separates the regions of Thessaly and Macedonia. Costas Agorastos, the regional governor of the Thessaly area, told Greece’s Skai Television the two trains crashed head on at high speed.

“Carriage One and Two no longer exist, and the third has derailed,” he said.

Rescuers wearing head lamps worked in thick smoke, pulling pieces of mangled metal from the cars to search for trapped people. Others scoured the field with flashlights and checked underneath the wreckage. Several of the dead are believed to have been found in the restaurant car near the front of the passenger train.

Greece’s firefighting service said some 66 people were hospitalized, including six in intensive care.

An overhead view of two trains crashed and derailed

Hospital officials in the nearby city of Larissa said at least 25 of those hurt had serious injuries.

“The evacuation process is ongoing and is being carried out under very difficult conditions due to the severity of the collision between the two trains,” said Vassilis Varthakoyiannis, a spokesperson for Greece’s firefighting service.

The possible cause of the collision was not immediately clear. Two rail officials were being questioned by police but had not been detained.

A rescue worker in neon yellow walks beside smashed in front of a train

More than 200 people who were unharmed in the crash or suffered minor injuries were transported by bus to Thessaloniki, 130 kilometres to the north. Police took their names as they arrived, in an effort to track anyone who may be missing.

A teenage survivor who did not give his name told reporters that just before the crash he felt a strong braking and saw sparks — then there was a sudden stop.

“Our carriage didn’t derail, but the ones in front did and were smashed,” he said, visibly shaken.

Passenger train carried 350

He said that the first car caught fire and that he used a bag to break the window of his car, the fourth, and escape.

Rail operator Hellenic Train said the northbound passenger train to Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest city, had about 350 passengers on board.

Agorastos described the collision on state television as “very powerful” and said it was “a terrible night.”

Men in blue reflective suits with headlamps work to pull people from the wrecked trains

“The front section of the train was smashed. “We’re getting cranes to come in and special lifting equipment clear the debris and lift the rail cars. There’s debris flung all around the crash site.”

Officials said the army had been contacted to assist.

Hellenic Train, which has added high-speed services in recent years, is operated by Italy’s FS Group, which runs rail services in several European countries.

Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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