Emergency crews cut through the mangled remains of a passenger train on Thursday, progressing “centimeter by centimeter” in their search for the dead from a head-on collision in northern Greece that killed at least 46 people. Rail workers went on strike to protest years of underfunding they say has left the country’s train system in a dangerous state.
The passenger train and a freight train slammed into each other late Tuesday, crumpling carriages into twisted steel knots and forcing people to smash windows to escape. It was the country’s deadliest crash ever, and more than 50 people remained hospitalized, most in the central Greek city of Larissa. Six of them were in intensive care.
Fire Service spokesman Yiannis Artopios said the grim recovery effort was proceeding “centimeter by centimeter.”
“We can see that there are more (bodies) people there. Unfortunately they are in a very bad condition because of the collision,” Artopios told state television.
The cause of the crash is still not clear. A station manager arrested after the collision was charged Wednesday with multiple counts of manslaughter and causing serious physical harm through negligence, as a judicial inquiry tries to establish why the two trains were traveling in opposite directions on the same track.
Railway workers’ associations, meanwhile, called strikes, halting national rail services and the subway in Athens. They are protesting working conditions and what they described as a dangerous failure to modernize the Greek rail system due to a lack of public investment during the deep financial crisis that spanned most of the previous decade and brought Greece to the brink of bankruptcy.
Transport Minister Kostas Karamanlis resigned following the crash, his replacement tasked with setting up an independent inquiry looking into the causes of the accident.