Greece’s railway workers began a one-day strike on Wednesday in protest of Tuesday’s tragic train crash that killed at least 43 people.The workers’ union stated that “pain has turned into rage over the numerous friends, family members, and neighbours who died or were injured. The strike follows demonstrations in Athens, Thessaloniki, and the city of Larissa, near where the crash occurred. Rescue workers are still searching the burned and buckled carriages for victims. Konstantinos Imanimidis, a rescuer, said that this was the “most difficult moment” as they had to “recover bodies rather than save lives” when the passenger train and freight train collided just before midnight on Tuesday. The railway workers’ strike began at 0600 local time (0400 GMT) and has impacted national rail services and the subway in Athens.
Many in Greece had perceived the train crash as an “accident waiting to happen” due to the “disrespect” for the Greek railways by successive governments.The latest details of the tragedy are that a 59-year-old station master in Larissa has been charged with manslaughter by negligence and will appear before the court on Thursday. He has denied any wrongdoing and claimed that a technical fault was the cause of the crash. The country’s transport minister has accepted responsibility for the “long-standing failures” of the authorities to modernize the railway system and resigned. The government has promised an independent inquiry to “deliver justice” while Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has suggested that the crash was caused by “tragic human error”. This suggestion has been met with anger from many Greeks. Survivors of the crash have described their experience as “nightmarish seconds” as the trains collided. On Wednesday, police and rioters had a confrontation outside the headquarters of Hellenic Train in Athens. Tear gas was
deployed to try to break up the protest, which included the throwing of stones and setting fires. A memorial gathering in Larissa to honor the victims of the incident was held in silence. One protester, Nikos Savva, a medical student from Cyprus, spoke to AFP news agency and said he believed the rail network had been in a state of disrepair for a long time with poorly paid workers. He suggested that the station master arrested should not be blamed for the entirety of the problem. Costas Bargiotas, a doctor from Larissa, also told AFP that this was an inadmissible accident and that the issue had been known for decades. Numerous travellers on the train were young adults in their twenties going back to Thessaloniki after spending the weekend observing Greek Orthodox Lent. According to Fire brigade representative Vassilis Varthakogiannis, the heat inside the first carriage – which was engulfed in flames – had reached a temperature of 1,300C (2,370F), creating it tough to identify individuals who had been inside. Relatives have offered DNA samples to aid in the identification process, and the outcomes are anticipated to be exposed on Thursday. Reports from the local media suggest that more than 10 people are still unaccounted for, with Greece now observing three days of national mourning.