Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has apologized to the families of the 57 victims of the serious train accident in his country. As Prime Minister, he owes this to everyone, Mitsotakis said in a message to the nation on Facebook on Sunday.
Meanwhile, demonstrators and police clashed violently at a protest rally in Athens. Mitsotakis said he owed it to the victims' families in particular to "ask for forgiveness." "It can't be that in Greece in 2023 two trains run towards each other on the same route and nobody notices it," he added.
On the route between Athens and the port city of Thessaloniki, a passenger train and an oncoming freight train collided head-on shortly before midnight on Tuesday evening. It was the worst train accident in the country's history. Following the accident, the station master of the city of Larisa was arrested. He admitted to having missed the rerouting of the trains. The 59-year-old is charged with negligent homicide and negligent bodily harm. He appeared in court for the first time on Sunday.
According to a report by public television broadcaster ERT, the man only held the post 40 days after completing three months of training. According to the daily newspaper "Kathimerini", he apparently worked alone at the station for four days before the accident, although it was a holiday weekend with heavy train traffic. Prime Minister Mitsotakis emphasized with a view to the station master: "We cannot, do not want to and must not hide behind human error."
The railway company Hellenic Train meanwhile defended itself against allegations that the relatives of the victims had been abandoned. The Hellenic Train staff was "at the scene of the accident from the first moment" and worked together with the authorities, civil defense and rescue workers, according to a statement published on Saturday evening. The company spoke of "particularly difficult days" and pointed out that it had lost nine employees in the collision
Watch the video: Serious train accident with more than 30 dead in Greece - eyewitnesses report.
The accident led to widespread protests in Greece. Over the weekend, people took to the streets in several cities. According to the police, around 12,000 people gathered in front of the parliament in Athens for a protest rally on Sunday morning during the hearing of the station manager. They released hundreds of black balloons into the sky to commemorate those killed in the tragedy.
In the meantime, the protests in the capital Athens turned violent. Some demonstrators set garbage cans on fire and threw Molotov cocktails, to which police responded with tear gas and stun grenades, AFP reporters observed. According to police, seven officers were injured and taken to a hospital. Five people were arrested after throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at police officers. The situation in Athens calmed down again in the afternoon.