Greek PM seeks forgiveness from families of victims after deadly train collision 57


The collision between passenger and freight trains has sparked outrage across Greece.


Greece’s prime minister on Sunday asked for forgiveness from the families of the 57 killed in the country’s worst rail disaster ahead of a large gathering of students and rail workers in Athens.
“As prime minister, I owe it to everyone, but especially to the relatives of the victims, to ask for forgiveness,” Kyriakos Mitsotakis wrote in a message addressed to the nation.

The accident between passenger and freight trains has sparked outrage throughout Greece.

“For the Greece of 2023, two trains traveling in different directions cannot run on the same line and no one notices,” Mitsotakis said in the post on his Facebook page.

Relatives and loved ones of those killed in Tuesday’s devastating train crash were also expected to gather on Sunday for a memorial service outside Larissa station, central Greece, near the scene of the accident.

The stationmaster involved in the disaster was due to appear in court on Sunday, a hearing postponed from the previous day, where he may face charges of negligent homicide.

Hellenic Train, the rail company that has become the focus of some of the outrage over the crash, released a statement late Saturday defending its actions.

Hundreds of people had demonstrated outside their headquarters in Athens during the week, and a legal source has said investigators are exploring the possibility of bringing charges against senior members of the company.

In recent days, railway union officials have urged the company to warn of the safety issues on the line. Harsh questions are also being asked of the government over its failure to implement rail safety reforms.

Sadness and anger

The demonstrations and vigils across Greece have expressed a combination of grief and anger over the disaster, which occurred when a passenger train and a freight train collided.

Sunday’s demonstration in Athens will take place in the capital’s Syntagma Square, next to the parliament, where clashes between police and angry protesters had already taken place on Friday evening.

Candle-lit marches and ceremonies have been held in memory of the victims of the accident, including many students returning from a weekend away.

“What happened was not an accident, it was a crime,” said one protester, Sophia Hatzopoulou, 23, a philosophy student in Thessaloniki.

“We can’t see all this happening and remain indifferent.”

At least nine young people studying at Aristotle University in Thessaloniki were among those killed on the passenger train.

‘New elements’ just in case

The Larissa station master, whose identity has not been released, has admitted responsibility for the accident, which happened after the two trains had been traveling on the same track for several kilometers.

The 59-year-old man, if charged with negligent homicide, faces life in prison if convicted.

But his lawyer Stefanos Pantzartsidis insisted on Saturday: “In the case there are important new elements that need to be investigated.”

Details have emerged in the Greek media about the stationmaster’s relative inexperience at the post and the fact that he was left unattended over a busy holiday weekend.

Safety Warnings

“These are particularly difficult days for the country and for our company,” Hellenic Train said in a statement late Saturday, noting that it had lost nine of its own employees in the crash.

Staff were quickly at the scene of the disaster and have been working closely with rescue teams and authorities ever since, the company added.

Kostas Genidounias, the head of the train drivers’ union OSE, has said they had already alerted authorities to safety deficiencies on the line where the crash occurred.

And union leaders at Hellenic Train sounded the alarm three weeks ago.

“We are not going to wait for the accident to see those responsible shed crocodile tears,” they said at the time.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is being published from a syndicated feed.)

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