Fiery train crash in Greece kills 29, injures at least 85

A passenger train and an oncoming freight train collided in a fiery wreck in northern Greece early Wednesday, killing 29 people and injuring at least 85, Fire Service officials said.

Multiple train cars derailed and at least three caught fire after the crash near Tempe, some 380 kilometers (235 miles) north of Athens. Hospital officials in the nearby city of Larissa said at least 25 people had serious injuries.

“The evacuation process is ongoing and is being carried out under very difficult conditions due to the severity of the collision between the two trains,” Fire Service spokesman Vassilis Varthakoyiannis said.

Greece Train Collision
Smoke rises from trains as firefighters and rescuers operate after a collision near Larissa city, Greece, early Wednesday, March 1, 2023. 

Vaggelis Kousioras / AP

Hospital units that treat burn victims had been alerted in the area, Varthakoyiannis said, adding that dozens of ambulances were involved in the rescue effort.

Rescuers wearing headlamps worked in thick smoke, pulling pieces of mangled sheet metal from the rail cars to search for trapped people.

Passengers who received minor injuries or were unharmed were transported by bus to Thessaloniki, 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of the incident. Police took their names as they arrived in an effort to track anyone who may be missing.

A teenage survivor who did not give his name told Greek reporters as he got off one of the buses that just before the crash, he felt strong braking and saw sparks and then there was a sudden stop.

“Our carriage didn’t derail, but the ones in front did and were smashed,” he said, visibly shaken.

He added that the first car caught fire and that he used a bag to break the window of his car, the fourth, and escape.

In comments to state television, the regional governor of the Thessaly area, Costas Agorastos, described the collision as “very powerful” and said it was “a terrible night.”

“The front section of the train was smashed. … We’re getting cranes to come in and special lifting equipment clear the debris and lift the rail cars. There’s debris flung all around the crash site.”

Officials said the army had been contacted to assist.

Rail operator Hellenic Train said the northbound passenger train from Athens to the northern city of Thessaloniki had about 350 passengers on board when the collision occurred. 

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