Train Collision Kills 26 in Northern Greece

A devastating train collision in northern Greece early Wednesday left 26 people dead and at least 85 injured. The accident occurred when a passenger train, with approximately 350 people on board, collided with a freight train near Tempe, a small town in northern Greece, located some 380 kilometers (235 miles) north of Athens.

The collision caused multiple cars to derail, with at least three bursting into flames. Hospital officials in the nearby city of Larissa confirmed that at least 25 people had serious injuries. The severity of the collision made the evacuation process challenging, with rescuers working under difficult conditions.

“The evacuation process is ongoing and is being carried out under very difficult conditions due to the severity of the collision between the two trains,” said Vassilis Varthakoyiannis, a spokesman for Greece’s firefighting service.

Hospital units used to treat burn victims had been alerted in the area, he said, and dozens of ambulances were involved in the rescue effort.

Survivors spoke of the horror of the accident, with passengers being thrown through the windows of the train cars due to the impact. Some passengers fought to free themselves after the passenger train buckled, slamming into a field next to the tracks.

Rescuers wearing head lamps worked in thick smoke, pulling pieces of mangled metal from the cars to search for trapped people. Others scoured the field with flashlights and checked underneath the wreckage.

Passengers who received minor injuries or were unharmed were transported by bus to Thessaloniki, 130 kilometers (80 miles) to the north. Police took their names as they arrived, in an effort to track anyone who may be missing.

One teenage survivor, who did not give his name, told Greek reporters that just before the crash, he felt a strong braking and saw sparks, and then there was a sudden stop.

“Our carriage didn’t derail, but the ones in front did and were smashed,” he said, visibly shaken.

He added that the first car caught fire and that he used a bag to break the window of his car, the fourth, and escape.

Rail operator Hellenic Train said the northbound passenger train from Athens to Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest city, had about 350 passengers on board. Costas Agorastos, the regional governor of the Thessaly area, described the collision as “very powerful” and said it was “a terrible night.”

“The front section of the train was smashed. … We’re getting cranes to come in and special lifting equipment clear the debris and lift the rail cars. There’s debris flung all around the crash site.”

The severity of the accident prompted the army’s involvement in the rescue efforts. Hellenic Train is operated by Italy’s FS Group, which runs rail services in several European countries.

The Greek government expressed its condolences and stated that an investigation would be conducted to determine the cause of the accident.

The accident has been described as one of Greece’s worst rail disasters, with a death toll that continues to rise as rescuers search for survivors.

The incident has also raised concerns about the safety of Greece’s rail network, with critics pointing to a lack of investment in infrastructure and the need for stricter safety measures.

The tragedy has shocked the country and the wider international community, with messages of support and condolences pouring in from around the world.