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GreekReporter.comGreek NewsWorkers in Greece Strike Demanding Answers for Tempe Rail Tragedy

Workers in Greece Strike Demanding Answers for Tempe Rail Tragedy

Tempe rail disaster
Relatives of the 57 victims lay flowers at Tempe. File photo. Credit: AMNA

Strikes across Greece mark the first anniversary of the nation’s worst rail tragedy at Tempe as workers demand answers for the accident and punishment for those responsible.

A year after the railway disaster, that claimed the lives of 57 people on February 28, 2023, in Central Greece, many questions remain unanswered.

A definitive account of what happened and who may be at fault has not been delivered, with investigators in an official inquiry not due to finish questioning until March 8.

A memorial service for those lost was held on Sunday, and relatives plan to gather at the crash site on Wednesday.

“One year on, we are back on the streets to shout that we do not forget,” said civil servants’ union Adedy. “Those responsible for the tragedy have still not answered for their criminal acts.”

Greek civil servants are staging a 24-hour walkout with other unions, including taxi drivers, workers on ferries and public transport workers, who are also protesting at the high cost of living.

Railway workers demand those responsible for the accident to be brought to justice. “Railway workers are the only ones who are not to blame for all that happened as they have been calling for the improvement in safety for years because they saw what was coming,” a statement by the Railway Workers Union said.

The Association of Victims of the Tempe Accident claims that, in the aftermath of the disaster, the affected area was covered up by the state to conceal vital evidence.

Relatives have appointed their own experts to the case, arguing that official investigators wasted time and overlooked vital evidence, including the intense fire that broke out after the collision with the freight train.

“It is certain the freight train was carrying illegal cargo. We’ve found substances used to adulterate fuel,” Maria Karystianou, who lost her 19-year-old daughter in the crash told AFP.

In a speech at the European Parliament this month, she said the government had “tried to tamper with and cover up incriminating evidence”.

Related: Unanswered Questions Remain Over Greece’s Railway Disaster

The collision at Tempe was Greece’s worst rail tragedy

On February 28, 2023, a head-on collision occurred between two trains south of the  Tempe Valley in Greece about halfway between the Greek towns of Tempi and Evangelismos in the Thessaly region.

The collision, involving the InterCity 62 (IC62) passenger train and an intermodal freight train, killed at least 57 people, with an official number of 342 passengers, 10 onboard railway staff on the passenger train, and 2 staff on the freight train totaling 354 passengers between the two trains.

Passengers described being trapped among smashed carriages and burning debris as the train keeled over. They broke windows to try to escape. The flames left many bodies charred beyond recognition and one missing woman was never found.

It is the deadliest railway disaster in Greek history. It was discovered that the IC62 passenger train had been allowed to proceed on the wrong track and pass signals of danger 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.

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