Greek station manager arrested after at least 36 killed in train accident | Pro IQRA News

Greek station manager arrested after at least 36 killed in train accident

 | Pro IQRA News

Pro IQRA News Updates.

Greek police say the station manager in the city of Larissa has been arrested following the train accident that killed at least 36 people.

A police statement specified that the suspect is only 59 years old. Two other people have been detained for questioning.

Fire service officials said 36 people were killed and at least 85 injured after several train cars derailed and at least three caught fire after crashing just before midnight near Tempe, about 235 miles north of Athens.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, visiting the scene, said the government should help the injured recover and identify the dead.

“I can guarantee one thing: we will find out the reasons for this tragedy and we will do everything we can so that nothing like this happens again,” said Mitsotakis.

On Wednesday, the government declared three days of national mourning, while flags were flown at half-staff outside all European Commission buildings in Brussels.

Rescue teams lit up the scene with floodlights before dawn on Wednesday as they searched frantically through the twisted, smoking wreckage for survivors.

Survivors said many passengers were thrown through the train’s carriage windows due to the collision.

Others, they said, fought to free themselves after the passenger train swerved, crashing into a field next to the railways near a pass 235 miles north of Athens where major highway and railway tunnels are located.

“There were many large pieces of steel,” said Vassilis Polizos, a local resident who was one of the first people on the scene. “The trains are completely destroyed, both passenger and freight trains.”

A crane worker, firefighters and rescue workers work at a collision site in Tempe, about 235 miles north of Athens, near the city of Larissa, Greece (Vaggelis Kousioras/AP)

He said that dizzy and disoriented people were fleeing from the rear cars of the train as it arrived.

“People were, of course, afraid — very afraid,” he said. “They were looking around, searching; they didn’t know where they were.”

The trains crashed just before the Tempe Valley, a narrow gorge separating the regions of Thessaly and Macedonia. The two trains crashed head-on at high speed, Kostas Agorastos, regional governor of Thessaly region, told Greece’s Skai TV.

Firefighters work after a collision in Tempe, near the city of Larissa (George Kidonas/InTime News/AP)

“The first and second carts are no longer there, and the third is derailed,” he said.

Rescuers wearing headlights worked through thick smoke, pulling pieces of mangled metal from wagons to search for trapped people.

Others scoured the field with flashlights, examining what was under the wreckage. It is believed that many of the dead were found in the restaurant area near the front of the passenger train, which was carrying hundreds of people.

Smoke rises from trains as firefighters and rescuers work after a collision near the city of Larissa, Greece, early Wednesday (Vaggelis Kousioras/AP)

“The evacuation process is continuing and is being carried out under very difficult conditions due to the seriousness of the collision between the two trains,” said Vassilis Varthakoyannis, a spokesman for the fire service.

He indicated that hospital units used to treat burn patients in the area were alerted, adding that dozens of ambulances participated in the rescue efforts.

“It was a very strong collision. This is a terrible night… It is hard to describe the scene,” Mr. Agorastos earlier told state television.

Officials said many of the passengers on the Athens-bound train to Thessaloniki were students returning home after celebrating Carnival over the long weekend.

“This is a terrible tragedy that is hard to comprehend,” said Deputy Health Minister Mina Gaga. “I feel so sorry for the parents of these children.”

A passenger walks on a road after a train crash in the city of Larissa, Greece. (Vaggelis Kousioras/AP)

“The front of the train was wrecked… We got winches to get in and special lifting equipment to remove the rubble and lift the rail cars. There is debris strewn all over the crash site.”

Government officials said the army had been contacted to assist in the rescue operation.

It was not immediately clear what caused the collision. Police are questioning two railway officials, but they have not been taken into custody.

The passengers, who were slightly or unhurt, were taken by bus to Thessaloniki, 80 miles to the north. The police took their names when they arrived, in an effort to track down anyone who might be missing.

A train carrying hundreds of passengers has collided with an oncoming freight train in northern Greece, killing and injuring dozens of passengers (George Kidonas/InTime News/AP)

An unnamed teenage survivor told reporters that he felt a strong brake before the accident, saw sparks, and then suddenly stopped.

“Our carriage did not derail, but the one in front got off and crashed,” he said, apparently shaken.

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

Railway operator Hellenic Train said the passenger train heading north from Athens to Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest city, had 350 passengers on board.

Officials said the military has been contacted for assistance.

Hellenic Train, which has added high-speed services in recent years, is operated by the Italian FS Group, which operates rail services in several European countries.