Greece: Gloomy train search moves ‘centimeter by centimeter’

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THESSALONIKI, Greece – Emergency crews cut through the mangled metal paneling of a commuter train on Thursday, advancing “centimeter by centimeter” in their efforts to pull more bodies from the burning wreckage in northern Greece that ‘ left at least 43 people dead. Rail workers have gone on strike to protest years of underfunding that they say has left the country’s rail system in a precarious state.

The passenger train and a freight train collided late Tuesday, crumpling carriages into twisted steel knots and forcing people to break windows to escape. This was the country’s deadliest accident ever, and more than 50 people remained in hospital, mostly in the center of the Greek city of Larissa, six of them in intensive care.

Fire Service spokesman Yiannis Artopios said the arduous recovery effort was progressing “centimeter by centimeter.”

“We see that there are more (groups of) people. Unfortunately they are in a bad condition as a result of the accident,” Artopios told state television.

STATION MANAGEMENT SUED, workers say rail system unsafe

The cause of the accident is still unclear. A station manager has been arrested after Wednesday’s crash on multiple counts of manslaughter and causing grievous bodily harm by negligence, while a forensic investigation tries to determine why the two trains were traveling there the different ways of the same path.

At the same time, railway workers’ associations called strikes, halting national rail services and the subway in Athens. They are complaining about working conditions and what they say is a dangerous failure to modernize Greece’s railway system due to a lack of public investment during the deep financial crisis that lasted most of the previous decade and brought ‘Greece to bankruptcy.

Transport Minister Kostas Karamanlis resigned after the accident, and another man was tasked with setting up an independent investigation into the causes of the accident.

“Responsibility will be assigned,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in a televised address late Wednesday after visiting the crash site.

“We will work so that the words ‘never again’ … remain an empty promise.” That I promise you.”

Supporters of the plan plan to protest in central Athens later on Thursday.

Crash survivor describes a fire escape

More than 300 people were on board the passenger train, many of them students returning from a holiday weekend and the annual Carnival celebrations around Greece.

Andreas Alikaniotis, a 20-year survivor of the accident, described how he and his classmates escaped from a train car with jackknives as a fire​​​​ approached, breaking windows and ‘ throw luggage on the ground outside to be used as a mobile landing place.

“It was a steep fall, into a ditch,” Alikaniotis, who suffered a knee injury, told reporters from his hospital bed in Larissa.

“The lights went out. And light had come from the approaching fire and the flying sparks. The smoke was touching inside the railway car but also outside,” said Alikaniotis.

“I managed to stay calm and was one of the few people around who wasn’t seriously injured,” he said. “Me and my friends helped people out.”

Greeks offer help, ZELENSKYY, TURKEY Sending condolences

Residents of Larissa lined up to donate blood, many waiting in heavy rain for more than an hour, while the town’s hotel association provided free accommodation for relatives. -victims of the accident and to those who traveled to the city to provide DNA samples to help police forensics. experts identify groups. Nine bodies have been identified through genetic matches so far, authorities said.

Pope Francis and European leaders sent messages of condolence after the tragedy. Among them was Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, whose country is recovering from last month’s devastating earthquakes. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy sent a message in Greek, writing “The people of Ukraine share the pain of the families of the victims. We wish a speedy recovery to all those injured.”

Gatopoulos reported from Athens, Greece.

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