At least 26 people died in a serious train accident in Greece on Wednesday night. A spokesman for the fire brigade also said on state television that 85 people were injured when a freight train collided with a passenger train, some of them seriously.
"The search and rescue operation continues, also with heavy equipment," said the spokesman. According to state television, there were 350 travelers and 20 railway workers on board the trains.
No details were available from official sources about the circumstances of the accident. According to the first information from railway workers, a passenger train collided head-on with a freight train coming from the opposite direction. The first three carriages of the passenger train were smashed, eyewitnesses said.
Search for survivors in the rubble
Greek television showed videos from the scene of the accident near Tempi in central Greece. Firefighters and rescue workers tried to find survivors in the rubble. "Most of the injured have head injuries, broken pelvises, arms and legs. Unfortunately, there are numerous people who are still in the rubble," a member of a rescue team told reporters at the scene.
A survivor said fire broke out on the passenger train after the collision. "There was chaos and a hell of a noise," he added on state television. "We smashed the window panes with our suitcases and groped our way out of our wagon in the dark," said a young man. The train had started in Athens and headed to the Greek port city of Thessaloniki, other survivors said on television.
Problems despite modernization
The route, which connects Athens with the northern Greek port of Thessaloniki, has been modernized in recent years. The Greek railways (Hellenic Train) are operated by the Italian state railway Ferroviaria dello Stato Italiano (FS). Railway workers said on the Greek broadcaster Real FM that, despite the modernization, there were significant problems with the electrical coordination of traffic control.