Protests erupted in Greece after a train crash that killed 57 people


Anger after two trains collided on the same track in Greece, killing nearly 60 people, spilled onto the streets of Athens as mass protests descended into chaos on Sunday when some protesters threw Molotov cocktails at police.

Chanting “This crime will not be forgotten” and “Their politics cost human lives,” protesters gathered in the heart of the Greek capital to demand an immediate tightening of safety standards on the national rail system. the country’s debt crisis. From 2009 to 2018.

About 10,000 protesters, many of them students and railway workers, filled Syntagma Square in the shadow of the Greek parliament building and released black balloons into the sky to acknowledge the dead.

Athens, Greece, March 5, 2023.

Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters

Riots broke out after a small group of peaceful protesters threw Molotov cocktails at police, Reuters reports. Footage from the scene shows thousands of protesters scattering from the square amid a cloud of tear gas.

Clashes between police and protesters came as Pope Francis prayed for those killed and injured in the train crash.

“I pray for the dead, I am close to the wounded and their loved ones, and may Our Lady comfort them,” Pope Francis said during his weekly Sunday service in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican.

Protests flared up in Tempi on Tuesday morning after a deadly collision between a freight train and a passenger train on the Athens-Thessaloniki road at the entrance to the valley from the Tempe Gorge. A linear region in northern Greece that separates the regions of Thessaly and Macedonia.

About 350 crew members and passengers, many of them students returning to university after a Greek Orthodox holiday, were on the train traveling at more than 100 mph when it collided with a freight train, authorities said. power. Investigators attributed the collision to human error and said the two trains had been on the same track for 12 minutes, covering a distance of about 11 miles.

Pictured: Athens, Greece, March 5, 2023.

Athens, Greece, March 5, 2023.

Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters

On Saturday, the death toll from the accident reached 57, authorities said. At least 80 people were injured.

After the accident, railway workers staged demonstrations to protest the reduction in the cost of rail infrastructure, which they said was a danger to themselves and the public.

On Sunday, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis apologized to his country on his Facebook page.

Mitsotakis, who was elected in July 2019, wrote: “As prime minister, I have a duty to forgive everyone, especially the relatives of the victims.” “Justice will quickly investigate the tragedy and determine responsibility.”

The head of the station in the city of Larisa, which is close to the scene of the incident, was arrested on charges of endangering life and violating public transport. The station chief’s lawyer, whose name has not been released, was given more time to respond to the charges at a hearing before an investigating judge on Sunday. The court session was postponed to Saturday.

Pictured: Protesters clash with police officers as an Athens Metro worker tries to intervene at the entrance to the station during a protest after two trains collided near Larissa, Athens, Greece, March 5, 2023.

Protesters clash with police as an Athens Metro employee tries to intervene at the station entrance during a protest after two trains collided near Larissa in Athens, Greece, March 5, 2023.

Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters

Rail unions have cited numerous safety deficiencies on the rail line, including past problems with its signaling system and inadequate monitoring systems. Unions are calling on the government to set a fast-track timetable for reforming safety protocols.

In a statement on Facebook on Sunday, Mitsotakis said that if the entire rail network had a remote monitoring system, “the accident would have been virtually impossible.”

Mitsotakis said his administration would seek help from the European Commission and other countries to strengthen rail safety in Greece.

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