On late Tuesday night, a collision between two trains near the Greek city of Larissa resulted in a derailment that caused at least 32 deaths and 85 injuries. The collision occurred around midnight, when two trains – one carrying 350 passengers and the other a freight train – collided about halfway along the route between Athens and Thessaloniki. As a result of the collision, multiple carriages derailed and skipped the tracks, leading to a rescue operation by emergency services.
A fire services spokesman confirmed that over 150 firefighters and 40 ambulances were mobilized for the response, with cranes and mechanical personnel also deployed to try to remove debris and right overturned vehicles.
According to authorities, the rescue operation has been challenging, with one train carriage completely crushed, smoke and flames emerging from other cars, and several people trapped inside. Efforts to rescue people who are still trapped are ongoing, with 53 people remaining hospitalized out of the 85 injured.
The collision is being called the worst train accident in Greece’s history by the media. An explanation for why the two trains collided has not yet been furnished, leaving authorities and the public questioning what may have caused the tragedy. Greek emergency services have stated that they will be investigating the cause of the collision to try to prevent such an incident from happening again in the future.
The rescue operation has been a somber and tragic experience for those involved. According to a spokesman, Vassilis Vathrakogiannis, “Of the 85 people injured, 53 people remain in hospital. The operation to free trapped people is underway and is taking place in difficult conditions, due to the seriousness of the collision between the two trains.” One rescuer emerged from the wreckage, stating, “I’ve never seen anything like this in my entire life. It’s tragic. Five hours later, we are finding bodies.”
Passengers who were involved in the collision spoke of the horror they experienced. One passenger named Lazos told the newspaper Protothema that the experience had been “very shocking.” “I wasn’t hurt, but I was stained with blood from other people who were injured near me,” he said.
On the local media site Onlarissa, a young woman said through tears that the train “was stopped for a few minutes when we heard a deafening noise.” Another shaken passenger told Skai television that “the windows suddenly exploded. People were screaming and were afraid.”
The Greek government has organized an emergency meeting after the crash, with the health minister Thanos Plevris going to the scene while interior minister Takis Theodorikakos supervised the response from a crisis management center. The two hospitals near Larissa have been requisitioned to accommodate the many injured, according to the fire services, while military hospitals in Thessaloniki and Athens are also “on alert” in case they are needed.
The collision has left Greece and the world in shock, as the tragic loss of life and injury has impacted countless families and communities. As the investigation into the cause of the collision continues, many will be hoping for answers and solutions to prevent such incidents from happening again in the future.