A memorial service was held on Sunday for the victims of the rail disaster in Greece 40 days after the tragic incident.
The service was held at Tempi on the exact spot where a passenger train collided with a freight train late on February 28. It is the deadliest rail disaster in Greek history.
The moments were heartbreaking as tearful relatives of the victims stood holding black balloons, lighting candles, and leaving flowers and notes on the tracks.
Memorial service for the 57 victims
At least 57 people were killed, and 80 others were injured, with 25 of them suffering serious injuries. Of the injured, 66 were hospitalized, with six being admitted to intensive care units.
It was difficult to identify some victims due to temperatures inside the first carriage reaching up to 1,300 °C (2,370 °F).
It was discovered that the passenger train was allowed to proceed on the wrong track and pass danger signals despite the presence of the freight train on the same track.
Vigils, angry protests, and clashes with the police occurred throughout Greece following the accident.
Beginning on 2 March 2023, railway workers of the Hellenic Train and the Athens Metro went on strike to protest the dangers related to the crash.
Following the accident, Transport Minister Kostas Karamanlis resigned, taking responsibility for the crash and for his failure to bring Greek railways to 21st-century standards.
Police questioned two rail officials and one of them, Larissa’s stationmaster, Vassilis Samaras, who was working at this post for only 5 days, and apparently alone while on shift, was detained and charged with causing death and injury through negligence.
Samaras admitted to allowing the train through a red signal, but claimed that the switch from the up line (northbound) to the down line (southbound) had not been working. It was later discovered that the stationmaster at Larissa had been informed that a freight train was on the southbound track around 17 minutes prior to the accident occurring, and these entries were found in a ledger.
Larissa’s public prosecutor stated that while the probe is still in its early stages, the authorities would continue to analyze all evidence and bring justice to whoever is responsible.
Rail disaster derails political establishment in Greece
The train disaster in Greece derailed the parties of the political establishment in the country, weeks before the general elections which will be held on May 21.
There are growing indications mirrored in opinion polls that Greeks are turning their backs on traditional parties, including the governing New Democracy (ND), SYRIZA, and socialist PASOK.
The parties who have governed Greece for decades and make up Greece’s political establishment are seen as responsible for the archaic railway system and their response to the tragedy.