Passenger train slams into freight train in deadly rail crash in northern Greece


A passenger train collided with an oncoming freight train in northern Greece early Wednesday, killing at least 29 people and injuring some 85, Fire Service officials said.

Multiple train cars derailed and at least three caught fire after the crash near Tempe, about 380 kilometres north of Athens. 

Hospital officials in the nearby city of Larissa said at least 25 people had serious injuries.

“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 Fire Service spokesperson Vassilis Varthakoyiannis.

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

A rescue worker in neon yellow walks beside smashed in front of a train
A man walks at the site of a crash, where a passenger train and a freight train collided near the city of Larissa, Greece, early Wednesday morning. (Kostas Mantziaris/Reuters)

An aerial shot shows the two derailed trains and the bright lights of emergency vehicles.
At least three rail cars caught fire and several derailed as a result of the crash. (Giannis Floulis /Reuters)

Survivors said several passengers were thrown through train car windows due to the impact. They said others 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 sheet metal from the crashed rail cars to search for trapped people. Others scoured the field with flashlights and checked under the wreckage.

A 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 felt a sudden stop.

“Our carriage didn’t derail, but the ones in front did and were smashed,” he said, visibly shaken. He said the first car caught fire and that he used a bag to break the window of his car, the fourth, and escape.

An overhead view of two trains crashed and derailed
Firefighters operate at the site of the crash that killed at least 29 people and injured dozens more. (Thanos Floulis/Reuters)

“It was a very powerful collision. This is a terrible night … It’s hard to describe the scene,” Costas Agorastos, the regional governor of the central Thessaly area, told state-run television.

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

“There was panic in the carriage, people were screaming,” a young man who was evacuated to a nearby bridge told SKAI TV.

“It was like an earthquake,” Angelos Tsiamouras, another passenger, told state broadcaster ERT.

Men in blue reflective suits with headlamps work to pull people from the wrecked trains
Government officials have called in the military to assist in the rescue effort. (Thanos Floulis/Reuters)

Rescue workers in reflective outfirts in the dark at the scene of a deadly train accident
There were at least 350 people on board the passenger train involved in the collision. (Thanos Floulis/Reuters)

Government officials said the army has been contacted to assist in the rescue.

Rail operator Hellenic Train said the northbound passenger train from Athens to the northern city of Thessaloniki had about 350 passengers on board when the collision occurred.

Passengers with minor injuries or who were unharmed were transported by bus to Thessaloniki, 130 kilometres north of the incident.

Smoke is seen rising from behind the sight of derailed train
Multiple train cars derailed when the two trains collided. (Kostas Mantziaris/Reuters)

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