Late Tuesday night, a passenger train collided head-on with a cargo train in Greece. The Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT) reports that at least 36 people were killed and 50 to 60 people are still unaccounted for. Eighty-five others were also injured in the crash, with six people in critical condition. The nightmarish crash is being described in the Mediterranean country as the worst train accident in recent memory.
A passenger train carrying 342 passengers was traveling from Athens to Thessaloniki, 310 miles north. Shortly before midnight, the passenger train slammed head-on into a cargo train heading in the opposite direction from Thessaloniki to Larissa. The Guardian shared the account of a survivor. He said, “A lot of passengers didn’t understand what exactly had happened because they were asleep. I was sleeping, too, and the sudden breaking shook [me awake]. When we realized what had happened, we tried to get out of the wagons, and when we managed that, we saw the chaos.”
The images of the impact’s aftermath can only be described as horrific with debris covering the crash site. The collision’s force completely destroyed the passenger train’s first two cars, a passenger carriage, and a canteen car. Both cars were filled with students. Medical staff responding to the tragedy have stated the bodies of many young victims have been burned beyond recognition.
Officials believe that the crash was caused by human error. The BBC reports that the stationmaster in Larissa has been arrested and charged with manslaughter by negligence and grievous bodily harm by negligence. The 59-year-old stationmaster claims that the incident was caused by a technical fault. Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said to reporters at the crash site, “There is one thing only that I can guarantee: we will learn the cause of the tragedy and we will do whatever passes through our hands for something like this to never happen again.”