Greek train collision: 47 dead - "We find people crushed in the carriages"

train collision larissa greece

The tragic death toll from the fatal train collision accident near Larissa continues to rise. According to the latest update from the Civil Protection, the number of people who have lost their lives in Tempi has reached 47.

According to the latest information, early in the morning the rescuers found three more bodies inside the third carriage, however the investigations have not yet been completed.

The Fire Brigade's Spokesman, Epipyragos Ioannis Artophios, spoke to ERT today about the progress of the investigations and where they are now focusing.

The search and extrication operation in the area was in progress throughout the night, while today with the first light of day it continues. Two carriages have crashed into each other creating a very scene of tragedy for the passengers, but also for the rescuers who are trying to recover bodies and rescue people.

What the Fire Department spokesman described was shocking.

“They see that there are people in a very bad condition because of the collision and crushing of the two carriages. We've already bagged two bodies," the spokesman said.

"At this point where the operation is underway there are quite a few people there who because of the load and the intensity of the conflict are in bad shape. This operation will continue in order to deliver all the people to their relatives.

"It is not possible to say at this time how many people are there. They were at a point where all the cargo went over their bodies and right now management is being done to get them out."

In fact, he described the gruesome scene as "the place where the fire broke out and the biggest heat load . All these people were found to be crushed by the wagons in a flash and then burst into flames."

However, as he said, it is still unknown why the fire and the large heat load occurred in that particular spot. At the same time, the images projected from the scene are heartbreaking with the EMAK men holding sheets and black bags.

See images:

train collision larissa greece

train collision larissa greece

train collision larissa greece

train collision larissa greece

While the search of the rescue crews continues in Tempi, at the scene of the tragedy there are also people waiting for a miracle. An apparently exhausted and emotional man, who spoke to the Star, said he was searching for his father in the wreckage.

During the investigation yesterday, 72 firefighters with 24 vehicles, 3 teams of the Special Disaster Management Unit and 2 teams of the Special Forestry Operations Unit attempted yesterday, while the presence of the National Immediate Assistance Centre is continuous.

The two trains – one carrying 342 passengers, the other transporting cargo from Thessaloniki to Larissa – collided at 11.20pm on Tuesday outside the town of Tempe after the Thessaloniki-bound night train, which had set out from Athens, inexplicably switched lanes and diverged to the freight track.

The two trains then travelled for several kilometres along the same track before colliding at high speed. Witnesses who rushed to the scene described the front two carriages of the passenger train, where most of the student victims were seated, as being completely destroyed.

On impact the wagons exploded into flames, sending huge sheets of steel into the air. Survivors later spoke of being ejected from carriage windows; others described how they had to struggle through plumes of acrid smoke to free themselves after the train buckled. Many were subsequently caught on camera in the wreckage disoriented and dazed.

“A lot of passengers didn’t understand what exactly had happened because they were asleep,” one survivor was quoted as telling the state news agency ANA-MPA.

“I was sleeping, too, and the sudden breaking shook [me awake]. When we realised what had happened, we tried to get out of the wagons, and when we managed that, we saw the chaos.”

From early on, the spotlight fell not only on a detained stationmaster – blamed for the “human error” that caused the collision – but, increasingly, also the dire state of the nation’s railways.

Announcing his resignation after visiting the site of the crash, the Greek transport minister, Kostas Karamanlis, said the network was so flawed it did “not befit the 21st century”. “When something so tragic happens, it is impossible to continue and pretend like it didn’t happen,” he told reporters.

Stepping down was not only “a mark of respect toward the memory of the people who died so unfairly” but, he added, an assumption of responsibility “for the Greek state’s and Greek political system’s mistakes over the course of history”.

The Greek prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who also rushed to Tempe, called a three-day period of official mourning, ordering flags to fly at half mast.

Pledging a full, independent investigation, Mitsotakis called the collision “a horrific rail accident without precedent in our country”.

“There is one thing only that I can guarantee: we will learn the cause of the tragedy and we will do whatever passes through our hands for something like this to never happen again,” he said.

In a late-night address, Mitsotakis vowed that “responsibilities will be assigned”. An independent cross-party committee of experts would, he pledged, immediately start looking into the causes of the crash.

“I met with relatives of the victims and the missing at the Larissa hospital. In their unspeakable pain, with great dignity, they asked me ‘why’,” he said. “It will also examine the longstanding delays in implementing railway projects.”

READ MORE: Train collision in Tempi: "I'm not a hero, I did my duty," says the teenager who helped save 16 passengers.

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