Greece: at least 43 dead in train collision

A passenger train and a freight train collided head-on near the town of Larissa. More than 80 injuries have been reported.

A collision between two trains near Larissa (Greece) left at least 43 dead and about 85 injured, several of them seriously according to the country's authorities, according to the Greek public radio and television. The spokesman of the Greek Fire Service, Vassilis Vathrakogiannis, assured that they still have to register a third passenger carriage, so the death toll could be higher.

Hours after the accident, Infrastructure and Transport Minister Kostas Karamanlis resigned. "It is a basic show of respect for the memory of the people who died in such an unjust way," Karamanlis said. In addition, police arrested the head of the Larissa train station for his possible responsibility in the collision.

The incident occurred around 22:00 local time in the town of Tempe, about 190 miles from the capital. A commercial train, carrying some 350 passengers and 20 crew members and covering the Athens-Thessaloniki route, collided head-on with a freight train making the reverse journey.

Initial investigations point to human error. One of the trains may have derailed and crossed over to the opposite rail or may have been traveling on the wrong track. Following the collision, both trains ended up off the tracks and at least three of the passenger train cars caught fire. The high speeds at which they were traveling greatly intensified the accident.

Stergios Minenis, one of the survivors, told Reuters about the events and the fear they experienced because of the fire:

We heard a very loud noise. It was a nightmarish ten seconds. We went around and around in the wagon until we fell sideways. When the shock wore off, panic set in. There were burning wires, fire, we had it next to us. As the train spun, we burned. Fire was everywhere.

Second deadliest train accident in Europe in the last decade

The accident in Greece is now the accident with the second highest number of casualties in Europe in the last decade. On July 24, 2013, a passenger train derailed in Angrois, near Santiago de Compostela (Spain). 80 people were killed and 144 injured.

Railway accident in Angrois (Spain) in 2013. 80 people were killed and 144 injured in the derailment of a passenger train (file image).
(Wikimedia Commons)