Thousands Demonstrate in Greece as Anger Grows at Death toll in Train Accidents – Times of India

ATHENS: Protests in Greece have intensified days after the country’s deadliest train crash, as thousands of students took to the streets in several cities and some protesters clashed with police in Athens. At least 57 people, including several university students, were killed when a passenger train collided with a freight car just before midnight on Tuesday. The government blames human error and a railway employee is charged with manslaughter.
Friday night’s violence was not extensive and the protests were otherwise peaceful. There were also clashes in it The second largest city in Greece, Thessaloniki.
In Athens, riot police fired tear gas and flash grenades outside parliament to disperse a small number of protesters who threw petrol bombs at them, set fire to rubbish bins and challenged police cordons. No arrests or injuries have been reported.
The protests from leftist and student groups were fueled by anger over the perceived lack of safety measures on Greece’s rail network. The largest on Friday was in the central Greek city of Larissa, not far from the crash site, where several thousand people marched peacefully. Similar protests were held on Wednesday and Thursday.
The accident in Tempe, 380 kilometers (235 mi) north of Athens, shocked the nation and revealed safety deficiencies in the small but antiquated rail network.
As salvage teams spent a third day searching the wreckage on Friday and families began to receive the remains of their loved ones, the funeral of the first of the victims took place in northern Greece.
Athina Katsara, a 34-year-old mother of a baby boy, was buried in her hometown of Katerini. Her injured husband was in hospital and unable to attend.
Harrowing identification process
The force of the head-on collision and resulting fire complicated the task of determining the death toll. Officials worked around the clock to match parts of dismembered and burned bodies with tissue samples to determine the number.
The bodies were returned to families in locked coffins after identification through next-of-kin DNA samples — a process followed for all remains.
Relatives of passengers still reported missing waited outside a Larissa hospital for test results. Among them was Mirella Ruci, whose 22-year-old son, Denis, remained missing.
“My son is not on any official list as of yet and I have no information. I beg anyone who has seen him, in train car 5, seat 22, to contact me if they may have seen him,” Ruci, who struggled to keep her voice from cracking, told reporters.
Flags on the ancient Acropolis, parliament and other public buildings in Greece remained at half-mast on the third day of national mourning. National rail services were halted for a second day by a strike, with more strikes planned over the weekend.
Police searched a rail coordination office in Larissa early Friday and removed evidence as part of an ongoing investigation. The facility’s 59-year-old station manager was arrested and charged with multiple counts of negligent homicide.
Stelios Sourlas, a lawyer representing a 23-year-old victim of the collision, said responsibility for the deaths extended beyond the station manager.
“The station manager may have the main responsibility … but the responsibility is also wider: there are the railway operators and government officials whose job it was to make sure that safety measures and procedures were correct,” Sourlas said.
Rail unions say the network has been poorly maintained, despite upgrades to provide faster trains in recent years.
Greece’s centre-right government was widely expected to call national elections on Friday for early April, but the announcement and likely date were likely to be postponed.
The passenger train involved in the accident was traveling on Greece’s busiest route, from Athens to Thessaloniki. The freight train was traveling in the opposite direction, on the same track.
Two of the victims were identified on Friday as Cypriot students Anastasia Adamidou and Kyprianos Papaioannou. Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides said the state would cover the costs of their repatriation and burials.
Albania’s prime minister, Edi Rama, has announced that flags on public buildings will be lowered at half-staff on Sunday as a sign of respect for the victims in Greece.

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