43 Dead and Countless Others Injured After Head on Train Collision in Greece

03/01/2023 By Mackenzie Bruno

At least 43 people are confirmed dead after what is considered Greece’s deadliest train crash. Rescue workers continue to search for survivors this Wednesday.

Photo courtesy of MGN.

In addition to the new death toll climbing to 43, approximately 80 others were injured, 52 remain in hospitals, and six people are in the intensive care unit. Search and rescue operations will continue throughout the night in an attempt to find more survivors and victims and make sense of this catastrophic event. 

The two trains, one a passenger and the other carrying freight, collided head-on in the town of Tempe in Northern Greece just before midnight on Tuesday. According to a CNN report, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the cause of the deadly train crash was due “to tragic human error.” In wake of the crash, the heads of The Hellenic Railways Organization and its subsidiary, ERGOSE, have all resigned. As reported by CBS News, Greece’s transport minister Kostas Karamanlis also stepped down following the crash

The passenger train was traveling between the Greek cities of Thessaloniki and Larissa before it collided head-on with the freight train. There were 342 passengers and ten railway staff members on the passenger train and two people on the freight train. With new details coming out about the cause of the crash, it is now known that authorities have arrested the station manager in Larissa, which is about 20 miles south of the crash site. The New York Times wrote, “Greek news media reported that the station manager had directed the freight train onto the same track as the passenger train, but the authorities declined to confirm or deny those reports.”

Greece’s health minister Thanos Plevris told reporters that many of the passengers onboard the train were young people, mostly college students. The passenger train was returning from carnival celebrations in Athens. In a report, the Greek Public broadcaster ERT said that most of the casualties occurred in the third carriage that had gotten derailed. Search and rescue efforts continue to dig through the wreckage with a team of 150 firefighters using 17 vehicles and four cranes. 

Protests are now erupting in the Greek city of Athens between protestors and police outside of the headquarters of the Greek rail company, Hellenic Train. CNN reported that Greek police spokesperson Constantia Dimoglidou said DNA samples are being used to identify the dead because the fire that sparked shortly after the crash caused horrific wounds leaving dismembered passengers unidentifiable at first glance. 

Ramy Inocencio, a CBS News foreign correspondent based in London, was on-site at the crash and spoke about what surviving passengers, loved ones, and rescue workers told him after the crash.

“One 28-year-old passenger basically described being roasted inside one of his carriages… because it was turning over and over, and he said that they were all being burned right and left.” Inocencio also stated that the regional governor told him that carriages one and two “basically don’t exist anymore.” One man told him that “we’ll be lucky to even have a body to bury.” Rescue workers said “bodies had been flung through the carriage windows and landed 100 to 150 feet away,” Inocencio said in a CBS News segment.

Rescue efforts continue this Wednesday night from the trainwreck site. The Greek army is also on-site to aid in the rescue operation. One of the latest victims is believed to be one of the train drivers, as fire service and police officers warned reporters at the New York Times to “stay behind a cordon as rescue workers helped them to retrieve the latest grim discovery from the melded train engines.”