Angry Protests Erupt in Greece Following Train Crash Disaster

Greece has been rocked by protests following a devastating train crash that killed 43 people. Demonstrations have taken place outside the headquarters of Hellenic Train in Athens, the company responsible for maintaining the country’s railways, as well as in Thessaloniki and the city of Larissa, near where the disaster occurred.

The incident happened on Tuesday night when a passenger service crashed head-on into a freight train, causing the front carriages to burst into flames. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said “tragic human error” was to blame and a 59-year-old station master in Larissa has been charged with manslaughter by negligence. He has denied any wrongdoing, blaming the crash on a technical fault.

Rail union members have expressed their belief that safety systems were not working properly, with repeated warnings about this over many years. In response, transport minister Kostas Karamanlis resigned, taking responsibility for the authorities’ “long-standing failures” to fix a railway system he said was not fit for the 21st Century.

In protest and mourning, rail workers are planning on striking on Thursday at what they say is official neglect of the railways. A silent vigil was held in Larissa to commemorate the victims of the incident, with many of the 350 passengers on board students in their 20s returning to Thessaloniki after a long weekend celebrating Greek Orthodox Lent.

At the vigil, one demonstrator said he felt the disaster had only been a matter of time due to the “worn down, badly paid staff” and “disrespect shown over the years by governments to the Greek railways”. A doctor based in Larissa also commented that this was an “inadmissible accident” and that they had known about this situation for 30 years.

In response to the tragedy, three days of national mourning have been declared across the country and an independent investigation has been launched to deliver justice. Rescuers are still working at the site of the crash to retrieve remains and help families identify their missing loved ones.

The incident has sparked outrage among many Greeks who feel that this accident was waiting to happen due to systemic failings. As such, rail workers are planning to strike in protest and demonstrate against what they see as official neglect of the railways. It remains to be seen what will come of the independent investigation and whether any real change will be implemented.

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