Rescue workers are conducting a desperate search for survivors after a head-on collision between two trains in central Greece killed dozens and injured scores.
At least 32 people were killed and more than 85 injured when a passenger train carrying more than 350 people collided with a freight train on Tuesday evening, shortly before midnight, in Tempi, central Greece, near the city Larissa, the Greek Fire Service said.
“We only heard a bang… the (train) car started spinning, before ending up on the side when we got off,” one male passenger told Greek public broadcaster ERT.
“It was a nightmare 10 seconds with a fire, you couldn’t see much from the smoke,” said the second passenger.
Recovery efforts are underway, with the focus on the first two carriages of the passenger train, the Greek Fire Service said. The death toll is expected to rise.
The passenger train was traveling from the capital of Athens to Thessaloniki, the second largest city in Greece, which is known for its festivals and vibrant cultural life. The collision followed a nationwide carnival at the weekend which ended with a public holiday on Monday.
Images on Greece’s state-owned public broadcaster ERT showed plumes of thick smoke pouring out of towed carriages and long lines of rescue vehicles beside them.
Meanwhile, rescue workers with torches searched carriages for survivors as paramedics took stunned passengers from the scene.
The images also showed some passengers who survived to Thessaloniki.
Greek Fire Service spokesman Vassilis Varthakogiannis said 194 passengers were taken safely to Thessaloniki and 20 people were transferred by bus to the city of Larissa. He also said that of the 85 people who were injured, 53 remained in hospital.
At least 150 firefighters with 17 vehicles and 40 ambulances are involved in the rescue operation, Varthakogiannis said.
The Greek railway company, Hellenic Train, said in a press release that “there was a head-on collision between two trains: a freight train and an IC 62 train that departed from Athens to Thessaloniki.”
Authorities said it is still unclear what caused the collision.
Hellenic Train, Greece’s main railway company, acquired Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane in 2017 and is now fully controlled by Trenitalia. The company operates both passenger and freight transport. Athens-Thessaloniki is the main line with daily connections.