Toll rises to 42 in Greek train crash as rescue hopes fade

AFP , Thursday 2 Mar 2023

The toll from Greece's worst rail accident has risen to 42, the fire department said Thursday, as hopes faded of finding anyone still alive in the wreckage from the head-on collision.

Students sit as they hold candles during a tribute to the victims of a deadly train accident on February 28, 2023, near the city of Larissa, central Greece where 38 people died, outside the Hellenic Train headquarters, in Athens, on March 1, 2023. AFP


The two trains collided near a tunnel outside Larissa before midnight on Tuesday. Two carriages were crushed and a third caught fire, trapping people inside.

A fire department spokeswoman told AFP that rescue crews had worked all night in search for survivors, but chances were dwindling.

"Time is not on our side," she said.

Passengers have described scenes of horror and chaos from the crash, many dodging smashed glass and debris as the train keeled over, and breaking windows to climb out.

The station master on duty at the time of the accident was due to appear before a prosecutor at the central city of Larissa later Thursday.

The 59-year-old will have to explain how a passenger train carrying some 350 people was allowed to run on the same line as a freight train for several kilometres.

He will be charged with negligent homicide and faces a life sentence if convicted.

Rescuers at the scene said they had never dealt with a disaster of this magnitude before.

Many bodies were charred beyond recognition and some passengers were being identified from body parts.

Several people are still believed to be missing -- including two Cyprus nationals -- though authorities have not released an official estimate.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said it was a "terrible train accident without precedent" in Greece, promising that the tragedy would be "fully" investigated.

"Everything shows that the drama was, sadly, mainly due to a tragic human error," Mitsotakis said in a televised address on Wednesday after visiting the disaster site.

Authorities have declared three days of national mourning.

Greece's transport minister submitted his resignation just hours after the accident.

The stakes are personally high for Mitsotakis, who seeks re-election this year and was expected to announce an April ballot.

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