Athens, Mar 1 (EFE).- At least 36 people died after the collision of two trains north of Larissa, in central Greece, the fire department reported, while 66 people remain hospitalized, six of them in intensive care units.
In all, some 130 people were injured, while the search for passengers continued among the wreckage.
Firefighters said the number of deaths would likely increase, since among the remains of the third passenger car, where they recovered the last two bodies, another dozen still remained.
The most seriously injured are in Larissa hospital.
Some 346 passengers and 20 crew members were traveling in the two trains, one commercial and the other a cargo rail, said Hellenic Train railway company, owned since 2017 by Italian group FS Italiane.
The passenger train covered the Athens-Thessaloniki route, while the commercial train, probably carrying sheet metal, covered the Thessaloniki-Athens route.
The trains collided shortly before midnight (2200 GMT) near Tempe, a small town located in a valley where a railway tunnel is located, about 300 kilometers north of Athens.
Several carriages derailed and at least three caught fire in the accident.
According to the local press, the station manager and the company representative were questioned by police, while the Prosecutor’s Office has issued an order to investigate the causes of the accident.
Kostas Agorastos, Thessalia regional governor, told ERT that the trains were on the same track at the time of the collision. Initial investigations point to human error.
Kostas Geridunias, Greece’s train operators’ union president, denounced on private ERT television the state of deterioration of the country’s railway infrastructure.
“Nothing works, everything is done manually, we are in manual mode on the entire Athens-Thessaloniki axis. Traffic lights don’t work either. If they did, drivers would see red lights and stop on time,” he said.
For these reasons, drivers depend almost entirely on the information they receive from the heads of the relevant stations, Geridunias said.
Some 250 people who were unharmed or suffered minor injuries were taken by bus to Thessaloniki, 130 kilometers north of the accident site, where according to a witness “apocalyptic” scenes are taking place.
Due to the severity of the collision, debris from the two trains have been strewn a great distance. EFE