Greece. Protests after a tragic railway accident

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Thousands of Greeks protested over a tragic train accident that killed at least 57 people. On Friday, the first of a series of funerals for the victims of Tuesday’s tragedy took place. The services are still looking for the dead – many people still have not received information about the fate of their loved ones.

Family and friends tearfully watch the coffin carrying the body of a 34-year-old mother killed in history’s worst train accident as it is carried out of the church Greece – this is the first funeral after Tuesday’s accident in which at least 57 people died.

Funeral of a victim of a train accident in GreeceACHILLEAS CHIRAS/PAP/EPA

A freight train collided with a passenger train late on Tuesday evening, 380 kilometers from Athens. On Wednesday morning, work began using heavy equipment to extract the bodies of the victims from the crushed wagons.

According to the latest data, 57 people died in the disaster. This number of victims was announced on Thursday, after the services working on the site found more bodies and body parts that were subjected to DNA testing. 48 people injured in the crash are still in hospitals.

Protests in Greece

In front of the hospital in Larisa, where many victims were transported, the parents of a 22-year-old man were waiting for confirmation of what had happened to their son. “They killed him, that’s what happened. They are all murderers,” Panos Routsi said in despair.

Not long before the disaster, his son Denis said he would be late and would call. “I’m still waiting,” he added. Denis went to Athens to meet his friends.

Protest in GreeceGEORGE VITSARAS/PAP/EPA

Reuters reported on Friday that around 2,000 students took part in a demonstration in the capital in the evening. Clashes broke out between demonstrators and security forces.

The rioters set fire to trash cans and threw molotov cocktails at the officers. The police used tear gas. “First of all, we feel furious that something like this could happen in 2023,” said 21-year-old student Aggelos Thomopolous.

Demonstrations were also held in Larisa, a city near which a freight train and a passenger train collided. Protesters carried black balloons and banners that read “It wasn’t an accident, it was murder,” Reuters reported.

“Call me when you arrive”

In school yards in Athens, students wrote the words “Call me when you arrive” on their bags, a phrase that has become one of the slogans of the protest.

Protesters also wrote a slogan in candlelight outside parliament. The 59-year-old station chief in Larisa was arrested. The man pleaded partially guilty, his lawyer said, emphasizing that he was not the only one responsible for the tragedy.

Train collision in GreeceEPA/ACHILLEAS CHIRAS

“The federation has been sounding the alarm for so many years, but it has never been taken seriously,” said the main railway workers’ union, demanding a meeting with the new transport minister appointed after the disaster.

Costas Genidounias, head of the train drivers’ union, told reporters that the current traffic control system was supposed to be ready three years ago. He reported that since 2020, union representatives have sent legal notices to OSE, the company responsible for Greece’s railway infrastructure, but have not received any response.

The OSE issued a statement on Thursday expressing its condolences to the families of the victims, but did not comment publicly on the criticism.

Main photo source: ACHILLEAS CHIRAS/PAP/EPA



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