At least 26 people died when a freight train collided with a passenger train on Wednesday night in central Greece. This was said by a spokesman for the fire brigade on state radio (ERT). 85 people were injured. "The search is ongoing," the fire department spokesman said. Numerous hospitals have been put on alert. It was said that 350 travelers and 20 railway workers were on board the trains.
Greek television showed videos from the scene of the accident. Carriages of both trains were smashed. Firefighters and rescue workers tried to find survivors in the rubble. “Most of the injured have head injuries, broken pelvises, arms and legs. Unfortunately, there are numerous people who are still in the rubble," a member of a rescue team told reporters at the scene. A survivor said fire broke out on the passenger train after the collision. "There was chaos and a roar from hell," he added on state television.
The passenger train traveling from Athens to the northern city of Thessaloniki and a freight train traveling from Thessaloniki to Larissa had a head-on collision near the city of Larissa, the governor of the Thessaly region Konstantinos Agorastos told Skai TV channel. A total of four wagons derailed and at least two caught fire. The first two wagons were "almost completely destroyed" by the impact.
TV recordings showed several derailed wagons with broken windows, from which thick clouds of smoke were coming. Debris lay on the street. In the wagons, rescue workers searched for trapped passengers with torches. "There was panic in the wagons, people were screaming," said a young man who was evacuated to a nearby bridge. About 250 passengers were safely taken to Thessaloniki by bus, said Governor Agorastos.
The route, which connects Athens with the northern Greek port of Thessaloniki, has been modernized in recent years. The Greek railways (Hellenic Train) are operated by the Italian state railway Ferroviaria dello Stato Italiano (FS). Railway workers said on the Greek broadcaster Real FM that, despite the modernization, there were significant problems with the electrical coordination of traffic control.