At least 36 dead, 66 hospitalised after horrific train crash in Greece

train collision February 28, 2023.

The number of confirmed dead from the deadly train collision at Tempi in central Greece rose to 36 on Wednesday morning as the search-and-rescue operation continued, according to the latest update from the fire brigade spokesperson Vasilis Vathrakogiannis.

The number of injured in hospital increased to 66, of which six were admitted to ICUs.

The search of the wreckage is ongoing, with efforts focused on the first three carriages of the passenger train which overturned, with the assistance of specialised truck-mounted cranes.

There are 150 fire fighters operating at the crash site, including EMAK and forest operations units, with 17 vehicles and four crane trucks, while the ambulance service is continuing to assist with 30 ambulances.

An investigation into the causes of the accident has been launched with officers from the Larissa police headquarters, while forensics teams from Athens and Thessaloniki have been sent to assist local police authorities.

The process of identifying the victims of the crash is underway at the Larissa General Hospital, with the assistance of officers and specialised psychologists of the Hellenic Police.

The accident occurred late on Tuesday, when a passenger train carrying more than 350 people collided with a freight train near Tempi.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will visit the site of the tragic train collision in Tempi on Wednesday morning. According to government sources, the prime minister remained at the Maximos Mansion all night and was constantly updated on the developments.

“We just heard a bang… the (train) car started spinning, before ending up sideways when we managed to exit,” one male passenger told Greek public broadcaster ERT.

“It was 10 nightmarish seconds with fire, you couldn’t see much from the smoke,” said a second passenger.

Recovery efforts are underway, with the focus on the first two carriages of the passenger train, the Greek Fire Service said. The death toll is expected to rise.

train collision February 28, 2023.

The passenger train had been traveling from the capital Athens to Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest city, which is renowned for its festivals and vibrant cultural life. The collision follows a nationwide carnival at the weekend which ended with a public holiday on Monday.

Images on Greece’s state-owned public broadcaster ERT showed plumes of thick smoke pouring out of toppled carriages and long lines of rescue vehicles next to them.

Meanwhile, rescue workers with torches searched carriages for survivors as paramedics led shell-shocked passengers from the scene.

The images also showed some surviving passengers arriving in Thessaloniki.

Greek Fire Service spokesman Vassilis Varthakogiannis said 194 passengers had been taken safely to Thessaloniki and 20 people transferred by bus to the city of Larissa. He added that of the 85 people injured, 53 remained in hospital.

At least 150 firefighters with 17 vehicles and 40 ambulances are involved in the rescue operation, Varthakogiannis said.

train collision February 28, 2023.

The Greek railway company, Hellenic Train, said in a press release that there was “a head-on collision between two trains: a freight train and train IC 62 which had departed from Athens to Thessaloniki.”

Authorities said it is still not clear what led to the collision.

Hellenic Train, the main Greek railway company, was acquired by Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane in 2017 and is now fully controlled by Trenitalia. The company operates both passenger and freight transport. The main line on which daily connections are offered is Athens-Thessaloniki.

"It was a very powerful collision," the regional governor of the Thessaly region, Kostas Agorastos, told state-run television.

"This is a terrible night... It's hard to describe the scene."

He said the first four carriages of the passenger train were derailed, and the first two carriages caught fire and were "almost completely destroyed".

"They were travelling at great speed and one (driver) didn't know the other was coming," the governor said.

train collision February 28, 2023.

Footage of the collision's aftermath showed thick plumes of smoke rising from derailed carriages.

Conditions for rescue workers were "very difficult" because of "the severity of the collision", fire service spokesman Vassilis Varthakoyiannis told reporters.

"I've never seen anything like this in my entire life. It's tragic. Five hours later, we are finding bodies," an exhausted rescuer emerging from the wreckage told AFP news agency.

"We are living through a tragedy. We are pulling out people alive, injured... there are dead. We are going to be here all night, until we finish, until we find the last person," another volunteer rescue worker told ERT state broadcaster in comments cited by Reuters.

READ MORE: Train collision in Larissa: PM Mitsotakis declares three days of national mourning.

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