Late on Tuesday night, Feb. 28, a 350 passenger train in Greece collided with a freight train. Upon collision, the trains exploded and fires set in. This accident resulted in at least 57 confirmed deaths, and left 50 others injured and in hospital care. The passenger train was traveling from Athens to Thessaloniki, and held many college students, who were returning from the first Carnival since the pandemic. Following the crash, the Greek government announced that there would be three days of national mourning, and vigils were held for the lives lost.
BBC states that Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis blamed “tragic human error” for the crash. In accordance with this, a station master was arrested and “charged with manslaughter by negligence.” BBC continues, reporting that another employee, the Transport Minister, resigned following the crash and said, “he would take responsibility for the authorities’ ‘longstanding failures’ to fix a railway system that was not fit for the 21st Century.” Greek media asserts that the trains were traveling for 12 minutes on the same track without any intervention before they ultimately collided. Additionally, reports now show that on this specific track, no traffic lights or electronic indicators functioned properly – all warning signals were dependent on humans. Based on the condition of tracks throughout Greece, many now reflect on how an accident like this was bound to occur.
Anger and political contempt regarding the situation at large prompted protests on Wednesday, March 1. Additionally, BBC reports that “…on Wednesday night, rioters clashed with police outside the headquarters of […] the company responsible for maintaining Greece’s railways.” Ultimately, tear gas was used on the crowds. Political tension in the country continued to rise following the incident, and with an upcoming election, this tension is expected to continue.
Due to the explosive nature of the crash, the wreckage is still being searched, so that there is a more conclusive count of those dead from the accident.
In the aftermath of another tragedy, the world mourns with Greece for the lives lost in the accident.
Train collision in northern Greece on Feb. 28, 2023. (Photo credit: Reuters)